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Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Office



photo courtesy of sarah-ji

I work for a huge brokerage.  We have branch offices up the wazoo.  Until recently, my little 8×10 room at the back with the stunning parking lot vista sat in what was the Central office.  In our office complex, however, were those Commercial folks, across the breezeway, waaaaay over there. 

And we didn’t mix.  Commercial doesn’t come to Central parties, and as far as I know, Commercial doesn’t throw parties.

And those Commercial people, I tell ya.  Talk about those with stars on thars.  You pass them in front of the escrow office, they don’t even smile, not even a little wave.

Until last weekend, when the Commercial office closed and all those Commercial agents had to find a new home among us unwashed residential resale masses over in the Central office.

Suspicious eyeballing abounds.

Nervously, they say hi.  We nod, an attempt to be gracious, each with a tight grip on our staplers behind our backs, lest these strangers lay claim to our stuff.

We each learn new vocabulary.  The residential agents learn “CoStar” and “cap rate.”

The Commercial people learn “multiple counter offer” and how to deal with “what do you mean, my guy took the light switch covers and now your clients are canceling?”

There are skirmishes – quickly put down – regarding custody of the conference room.

But slowly, we learn about each other.  How they deal so well with the facts only, hard business, investor client.  How we deal well with Ma and Pa selling the family home in financial hardship. 

Our skill sets don’t always overlap, but our residence does, so we’re adjusting.  They learn that their hard-line tactics don’t always work with Ma and Pa.  We learn not to talk about our feelings so much.  They learn that the liquid coffee creamer is only brought out for special occasions, and we pick up some of their business-like approach to the business.

Eventually, we’ll find a way to co-exist, and although our businesses will always be vastly different, we can still smile and compare notes and share insights over the fax machine – and eventually, maybe some day – we’ll show them where we hide the liquor.

Or my name isn’t Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate.

Kelley Koehler, aka the Housechick, is usually found focused on her Tucson, Arizona, real estate business. You may also find her on Twitter, where she doubles as a super hero, at Social Media Training Camp, where she trains and coaches people on how to integrate social media into successful business practices, or at, a collection of all things housechick-ish. Despite her engineering background, Kelley enjoys translating complex technical concepts into understandable and clear ideas that are practical and useful to the striving real estate agent.

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  1. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 10, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Kelley, I used to work for a major commercial developer (headquartered in Phoenix, btw) and I can’t tell you how close to home this hit… the two worlds are DRAMATICALLY different.

    Flip flops for me today, Ferragamos back then. “Word up” typed out on Twitter now, “I anticipate with great excitement the synergy that this collaboration will create” on formal letterhead back then (okay, just 2 years ago). The pace was much more breakneck, but seeing the largest shopping venue in all of central Texas’ grand opening was so rewarding so the efforts have a big payoff (not to mention payday). I don’t miss not sleeping, I don’t miss going to ICSC, I don’t miss the phone calls at 11 at night because construction thinks the stone work is designed improperly, and I don’t miss having to order office supplies through bitchy Betty.

    I look forward to hearing how these two MASSIVELY different worlds cohabitate an office together. I’m chuckling here just picturing it. And I’m also wondering why the hell they’re even doing residential- change brokers if commercial’s gone… if residential shut down, that team would be out of a job, there’s no way a transition would ever be invited. The assumption is poorly made that *anyone* can do residential or *anyone* could do commercial… they’re ridiculously different worlds in every single way. Oh Kelley, good luck dealing, girl and watch your staplers!

  2. Ken Smith

    June 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Commercial agents bring different skill sets to their business then residential agents. They are more strictly business and that is what is needed in their world. But there is no reason that everyone can’t be under one roof and learn from each other. Learn what you can from them.

  3. Frank Jewett

    June 10, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Commercial agents often look down on residential agents. Commercial agents wouldn’t dream of slapping their face on their business card, much less a shopping cart… with their dog in the picture!

    The phenomenon I’m seeing here in Santa Clara County is big residential brokers opening commercial divisions while individual brokers and agents are also “moonlighting” in commercial real estate. This is likely to increase tensions between the two camps. I suspect residential brokers and agents will eventually discover, as they did with short sales, that it isn’t as easy at it looks to reinvent your business model. It isn’t as if residential is completely dead. In fact I’ll bet those who stay focused on residential actually find it easier to compete for business as their rivals get distracted by what they think is the next low hanging fruit.

  4. Eugene

    June 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    “…each with a tight grip on our staplers behind our backs.” haha, if they were only red, the picture would be complete.

  5. BawldGuy Talking

    June 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Having been on the ‘commercial’ side since Carter was Prez, I can attest to the spherical voids of which most of those on that side belong as a species.

    Don’t show ’em where the booze is Kelley. It’ll be the end of spontaneous office parties forever. 🙂

  6. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 10, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Weird, usually when I mention designer shoes, Kris Berg shows up…..

  7. BawldGuy Talking

    June 10, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Check with Steve, but I think she may be at her therapy appt. re: MLS down due to ultra crappy Tempo5 ‘improvement’ recently. 🙂

  8. Rebecca Levinson

    June 10, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    That’s a different twist on desegregation. Sounds like you all are making friends though:-)

  9. Bob Schenkenberger

    June 10, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Zanzibar, the liquor cabinet is not safe! Do not, under any circumstance, let that cat out of the bag.

  10. Maureen Francis

    June 11, 2008 at 2:53 am

    When we first started, people would ask us to do commercial stuff. Small, like find a retail rental. After not too long we realized that it actually is quite different, and stopped trying.

    I like selling houses.

    What do we have to do to get the liquid creamer? We never have that!

  11. Paula Henry

    June 11, 2008 at 6:46 am

    Two things you have in common, coffee and liquor – does that something about the stresses of our profession, whether commercial or residential. Just wondering……

  12. Kelley Koehler

    June 11, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Hrm. Well, that sort of failed as a parable, didn’t it?

    Maureen – we get french vanilla creamer in those tiny little onsie servings on Wednesdays before the wednesday meetings as a bribe to come, along with bagels. But the Broadway East office has a cuppachino machine EVERY DAY. I may have to bring that point up to our office council.

    The commercial folks have seats among us, but they’re still sort of their own group. They had a huge space on the other side of the complex that was always larger than they needed. Central had enough empty desks to accomodate them, so we consolidated areas, stopped leasing that huge wasted space.

    We’ve always had a standing referral agreement with the commercial agents that says if we give them commercial business, that they’ll send that person back to us for any residential stuff they want to buy or sell, so in that regard, we’re all on good terms – as we can’t do commercial and they’re allowed to do residential as well as commercial!

    What’s interesting to me is that, with all the sort of snootiness that the commercial agents appeared to have, semingly wheeling and dealing in large transactions, they had to adhere to our desk assignment standards – which are awarded according to production. Lots of those agents ended up at shared cubicle desks. Seems for some, there was a whole lot of talk, and not so much action.

    On the whole, we’re getting along. There’s like 100 of us and maybe 20 of them, so they’re a bit overwhelmed. Central is also the “out-there” office, where just about anything goes, and often does, and most of the commerical agents are, ah, old dudes – but we’re also serious about our business. We have one of the lowest average sales prices per branch, but we often beat out the office with the highest average sales price in volume – sheer dollar volume – nearly every year. You can’t hang at Central unless you’re good at what you do.

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Business Marketing

The rise of influencer marketing and its effect on digital marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) More businesses are planning to invest a larger part of their marketing budgets on more relatable, branded content and influencer marketing.



Influencer speaking to camera for marketing segment.

The digital age has created more savvy consumers, and the barrage of advertising on top of the plenitude of content online can be a lot. Many consumers have learned to hide ads or they simply scroll past them to their content of choice. Most business owners know that digital marketing is a crucial part of any ad strategy, and branded content and influencer marketing continues to grow in the market, because consumers see that it’s different from traditional advertising.

Hardly anything stayed the same in 2020, and traditional advertising also has shifted. Advertiser Perceptions reported on the trend for 2021, based on a survey from late 2020.

“More than half of advertisers using paid branded content and influencers say doing so is more critical than it was a year ago. Throughout the second half of 2020, 32% increased spending on branded content and 25% spent more to back influencers. They’re now putting 20% of their digital budgets into the complementary practices, which is more than they put into any other digital channel (paid search is 14%, display 13%, paid social 12%, digital video 12%).”

The benefits of branded and influencer content are that you are speaking to the consumer where they already are, when you choose an influencer. The people who follow their accounts are more likely to trust that the influencer would only share something they like or use themselves. The best matches are when the influencer marketing fits nicely into the kind of content, the voice, and any specialties they already deal with.

The word “influencer” as well as the concept rubs some people the wrong way. Marketers see the value, though, as influencer marketing can be effective if done well, and the cost to hire them is often less than a traditional ad campaign. If I want to know about food in a city, I’ll follow the hashtags until I find a local food blogger or micro-influencer whose style I like. Then I’ll seek out those restaurants when I visit. Sure, some of the meals are comped, but the truth is that food bloggers and influencers like to share their food recommendations. I have been influenced this way more than once, and not only for food. I am not alone in this, either, which is why it’s an important part of a marketing strategy.

In influencer marketing, the content creator is then given free rein to create within their own style, voice, and persona. They need to connect with their audience in an authentic, familiar way without creating a dissonance for their followers between their public page(s) and the brand. The level of trust is fairly high with influencer marketing, and many influencers realize that promoting something crappy or something outside of their area of expertise or recognition hurts everyone involved.

The power of storytelling comes into play here, as with all good advertising. Branded content is specifically all about the story, often the story of the business’s philosophy or some lifestyle aspect that goes with the brand’s vibe–or is so off that it goes viral. Some branded campaigns join into or build off of conversations already happening in the wider world. The purpose is to have people engage with the brand, with the content, build awareness, encourage conversations, sharing, comments, all with the long term goal of fostering a positive image of the brand so that down the line, they will become consumers.

Think of 2004 Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, based on a study showing that around 2% of women saw themselves as beautiful. The widely studied, award-winning campaign featured women of all backgrounds and body types, without airbrushing and Photoshopping them into a narrow vision of “beauty.” While some people hated it, many loved it and applauded the brand for treading into traditionally uncharted waters. Among haters, fans, and people who weren’t sure what to think, the Dove Real Beauty branded content campaign generated conversations. The campaign also encouraged women to feel good about themselves and lift up other women. One could argue that the campaign you could argue that the Real Beauty campaign was a forerunner to the currently popular body positivity movement, which started gaining traction around 2012. Dove increased sales by at least $1.5 billion in the first ten years the branded content campaign ran.

The goal of branded content is to raise awareness of the brand, but the path from point A (creating the content) to point B (brand awareness, ultimately leading to better sales) is not a straight line. Brands are paying attention to grabbing attention, aka building brand awareness via more upper funnel marketing than lower funnel.

One thing that marketers are looking for now, however, is almost eliminating the funnel. With the mind-boggling increase in e-commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, clickable sales capability becomes important in any kind of marketing, including influencer and branded content. It pays to listen to customers, to find an influencer who meshes with your brand’s purpose, and to create thoughtful branded content that isn’t out of line with your core product or service.

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Business Marketing

Need design help? Ask a Designer offers free peer-review for better design

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Good design is more than just slapping some fonts and colors together. Ask a Designer promises free design advice on their new website.



A white sign in an urban setting reading "In Design We Trust" with glowing yellow lights above.

With the necessity to create and maintain an online presence for our businesses nowadays, content creation is essential. One impact this proliferation of content has had on entrepreneurs, bloggers, and small businesses is that many non-designers have had to take a stab at design work. Sometimes this works out for the amateur designer, but often it could be better: More effective, accessible, and appealing. This is where Ask a Designer comes in.

Creating designs online can be fun, but your average Canva, Squarespace, or WordPress user, for example, has no more of a sense of design than the man on the moon. Design work encompasses so much more than just slapping some words on a stock photo and calling it a day. While there are truly incredible and helpful free or inexpensive DIY design and business tools out there, nothing beats the power of knowledge and experience.

Ask a Designer provides one more level of professional review and counsel before a business owner puts their DIY (or even paid) design work out there for the world to see—or worse, not see. As a writer, I have always valued editorial reviews, comments, and feedback on my writing. Second eyes, third eyes, and more almost always serve to improve the content. It makes business sense to get as much feedback as possible, even better to get expert feedback.

For example, an experienced web designer should have a good idea of how to incorporate and test for UX and UI purposes, thus making the user interaction more functional and pleasant. A skilled graphic designer knows what colors go together for aesthetic appeal, accessibility, and even the psychology behind why and how they do.

Take logos. Pick a color, image, and font you like, and go for it, right? I’m afraid not. There is a lot of data out there on the science and psychology of how our brains process logos. There are examples of logo “fails” out there, as well. Consider the uproar over AirBnB’s logo that many thought evoked genitalia. Or the raised eyebrows when Google changed their color scheme to one similar to Microsoft’s palate. Just search for “logo fails” online to get an idea of how a seemingly innocent logo can go horribly wrong. I haven’t linked them here, because they would need a trigger warning, as many of the worst examples can be interpreted as some sort of sexual innuendo or genitalia. Searchers, be warned.

It always makes good business sense to use professional designers when you have the option, just as it makes sense to use professional writers for copywriting and professional photographers for photography. After all, if you have the chance to get something right the first time, it saves you time and money to do so. Rebranding can be difficult and costly, although sometimes rebranding is necessary. Having a designer review your design (whether logo, WordPress, blog, or other) could possibly help you from missing the mark.

How does Ask a Designer work, and is it really free? It’s super easy—almost like designers had a hand in it! Know what I mean? First, you go to the website or app and enter your question. Next Ask a Designer will assign your question to the appropriate type of designer in their network. Within 48 hours, they’ll get back to you with feedback or an answer to your design question.

While Ask a Designer is available to anyone to use, the website suggests it is especially helpful for developers, teams, junior designers, and business and product owners. They suggest, “Think of us as peer-review in your pocket.” The team at Ask a Designer will provide feedback on specific projects such as websites, logos, and portfolios, as well as answer general questions.

Examples of questions on their website give a good idea of the scope of questions they’ll answer, and include the type of feedback they provide. Sample questions include:

  • “How do I choose colors for dark mode?”
  • “I’d love feedback on a logo for a restaurant.”
  • “I’m an industrial design student and I’d like to move into automotive design. What are some resources that can get me to where I need to be?”
  • “Please send me some feedback on [website link].”
  • “How can I use my brand fonts on my website?”
  • “I’m a full stack software engineer. Are there any resources you could suggest for me to level up my design or UX skills?”

Ask a Designer is new, and so they currently list 2 design experts, each with 20 or more years of experience in their fields. They promise to add more “desig-nerds” soon. It may sound too good to be true, but from what they state on their website, this expert design review service is free. Considering the other excellent tools out there with some free components out there for business, it is possible that this is true. Whether they will add a more in-depth paid version is yet to be seen. In any case, it’s worth trying out the app or website for your burning design questions and reviews.

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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.



side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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