Taking Your Reviews Offline: A Case Study

Today’s post is a case study/wrap-up for a recent print project. The client is a premier Silicon Valley real estate broker who was referred to me by my very first freelance client, another rockstar broker that I still work with today.

The Project: Zillow 100 Reviews

Type: Print Layout and Design

Client: Julie Wyss, A Silicon Valley Real Estate Broker

The brief:

Julie Wyss, a prominent Silicon Valley real estate professional, approached me with a request to consolidate 100 of her best online reviews into physical collateral she could present to clients in real time.

The problem:

When meeting with clients in person, Julie had no convenient means of showcasing one of her most valuable assets: more than 300 glowing testimonials from real clients who loved working with her.

The solution:

Rather than asking prospects to pull out their phones, search for her online, and sift through over 300 reviews from around the internet, Julie needed a high-value, curated handout that clients could carry with them and read at their leisure. The product needed to provide sound social proof, but also be attractive enough to include in her presentation package—one of her key marketing tools.

The process:

At the start of the project, Julie had over 300 outstanding reviews on Zillow. Curating the best of the best required several cycles of reading, copying, pasting and ranking. Eventually, I narrowed the list and highlighted the entries according to good/better/best. This helped me quickly filter to the absolute top reviews, which I placed on the front and back pages where clients would be most likely to see them.

Next, I rearranged the reviews to prevent clustering, and to make sure each member of Team Wyss was well-represented throughout the document. Taking it one step further, I spotlighted snippets that, on their own, represented the working style of Julie’s team.

This accomplished two goals: allowing busy readers to gain valuable insights with a quick skim, and priming clients for the possibility of a hand-off from Julie to one of her experienced team members.


The end result:

A gorgeous, 24-page glossy, saddle-stitched, magazine-style showpiece that effectively promotes Julie’s full-service brand. The pictures below don’t do it justice at all (honestly, not even close), thanks in no small part to a fantastic, thoroughly professional print job by MGXCopy (now Printivity).

Here’s a peek at a few pages:

Front and Back Covers:


MARVA_Z100 Covershadowabcd Back Cover_revised2


Inside Spread:

The triangular background graphic looks terrible in this mockup. In the final version, it served to provide much-needed contrast to pages and pages of copy blocks.

Z100 Inside Mockup9
My really bad attempt at creating a mockup in GIMP.


Alternate Covers (rejected)

Zillow 100 Reviews_Cover Page_Mockup 2a a Zillow 100 Reviews_Cover Page_Mockup 3

Key Takeaways:

  • Pad the ETA! There were several delays that dragged this project out longer than necessary. Some of the problems were on me (like picking the wrong print shop at first), but some of them—like email system issues at the second print shop—were outside of my control. I was able to deliver the completed artwork five days ahead of deadline, but there were at least five days of print-related communication delays I didn’t see coming.
  • Taking the time to highlight and categorize the reviews up front was extremely useful when last minute changes became necessary toward the end of the project. The revisions resulted in three new pages to fill, and those highlights allowed me to zero in on exactly which reviews were still available for use. This saved me hours of extra work and allowed me to stick to the project’s deadline.

All-in-all, this was a fantastic project to work on. Julie and her team are wonderful to work with, quick on the draw and incredibly kind, which her reviews confirm.

If you ever have the chance to work with Team Wyss, grab it!

If you have questions about this project, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I welcome both positive and constructive comments, and I’ll do my best to answer posts quickly and thoroughly.

If you or someone you know is interested in tackling a project like this, let me know. I’ve got room for a new client or two, and I’d be happy to help out!

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