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Greetings from the Epicenter of Real Estate Blogging

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What you learn quickly when you’re a real estate blogger in the Phoenix area is you’re not lone. Last night I discovered another half-dozen local bloggers while trying to find someone using the Arizona Regional MLS’ basic IDX feed.

The above photo features some of the area’s best and brightest – oh, and also the rather large man in black on the left. Not pictured is Dru Bloomfield, one of three bloggers who all work in McCormick Ranch, a subdivision in Scottsdale. John Wake, making an odd clawing motion in the back left, and Irene Hammond (in the pink) are the other two.

(Incidentally, if I disappear, please tell the authorities to start the investigation with the Scottsdale agents, none of whom agree with my contention that their city’s overrated.)

Up front are Christoph Schweiger and Steve Belt. Heather Barr is nearly eclipsed by me, at least as much as someone so shimmery can be eclipsed. Chris Butterworth is behind Irene and in the back right, with the cast on his right arm, is the unstoppable Jay Thompson.

Helping Each Other Build Their Business

You’d expect for us to be hyper-competitive and not up for such gatherings in an online market as competitive as the one here in Phoenix. But with one glaring exception, nothing is further from the truth. Since those pictured aren’t trying to put a price tag on their own marketing expertise, we share ideas freely.

Entering the Phoenix real estate blogging world now is a bit different than it was a couple of years ago when I started. There was the other dog, not quite so rabid as today. There was Jay. And that was it.

Now? Let’s just say when we get together again, we’re going to need another couple of tables … and at least another couple of hours to spend sharing our passion for the market and for our blogs.

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Matthew Rathbun

    April 1, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Agent meet-ups are great. I love getting together with folks outside of my market area to discuss the industry. It’s even better with food and drinks! I’m glad you all had fun!

  2. Jonathan Dalton

    April 1, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    I should have said Dru’s not pictured because she was holding the camera.

  3. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    April 1, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    So I bet you got VIP seating when you told the hostess that you were a group of influential real estate bloggers, huh? 😉

    It’s important for people to see the value in sharing ideas- when great minds come together, they will raise the bar, meanwhile the people clinging tightly to their ridiculous competitiveness will be left to follow the new bar set by the people they were attempting to exclude/squash/squander by being exclusive. In modern times, inclusion is the key to success.

  4. Dru Bloomfield

    April 1, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    It was a great time… my head is spinning from all the simultaneous conversations. High energy. Camaraderie. Market updates from around the valley. Thanks to you and Steve Belt for twittering this meet to life.

    We’ll discuss Scottsdale later!

  5. Steve Belt

    April 1, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    I couldn’t have been more thrilled by the reaction that we received from folks that heard about lunch as Jonathon and I were twittering. What a really cool way to generate “buzz” amongst colleagues, and an even better, to find how enthusiastic we were all to meet each other. I didn’t talk to anyone that didn’t immediately jump at the idea to want to meet. Due to table arrangements, I missed out on any meaningful discussion with Master Jay, so for that reason alone, more gatherings are necessary. And just to make sure Jonathon feels the most comfortable, it almost has to be in Scottsdale.

  6. Jay Thompson

    April 2, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Fabulous time. Needed to be longer, with more beer. But the company was great. It’s nice to share and meet new folks.

    Thanks for finding me in the parking lot Steve, otherwise I might still be driving around…

    Next time, Tempe? Queen Creek?

    I’ll go anywhere, its worth the drive.

  7. Christoph Schweiger

    April 2, 2008 at 9:05 am

    This was long overdue! Let’s do this again sometime soon because I need to catch up with the other end of the table.

  8. Shailesh Ghimire

    April 2, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Sniff sniff….

    I feel left out…. I only help finance your borrowers purchase… sniff.. sniff….

    🙁

    I don’t mind sitting at the other table by myself just so I can say I was there… sniff sniff

  9. Steve Belt

    April 2, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Shailesh, I sure hope someone invited you. If not, it was a pure oversight, not intentional, totally a mistake on my part, and I take full responsibility for the error.

  10. Jonathan Dalton

    April 2, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Nah, this one’s my bad, not Steve … I was keeping this one for agents because if we invited a mortgage guy then we’d all just leave him with the tab.

    Wait … what was the logic in that one?

    I’ve not talked to the folks about another but I’d like to think we could make this happen again in the near future and expand it out a bit.

    Oh, and yes, I need to get us a round table. Got it.

  11. Jay Thompson

    April 2, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I’m pretty sure there are nothing but round tables in the East Valley…. 😉

  12. Jay Thompson

    April 2, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Here is the code to frame the free ARMLS IDX:

    BUT, the user HAS to have their URL in their ARMLS profile, or it won’t work.

  13. Jay Thompson

    April 2, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Gak, the tag doesn't work...

    Try this. (Add a "" at the beginning and end, and replace "XX123" with the actual agent ID)

    frame src=”https://armlsidx.vstone.com/?agentid=XX123” width=”510”

  14. Jay Thompson

    April 2, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Sigh. Stupid WordPress. See this link: https://www.armls.com/pdfs/ARMLSAgentIDXHowTo.pdf

  15. Jonathan Dalton

    April 2, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks, Jay … I think he has it registered wrong but can fix it. I’m still pushing him to Killer IDX. It may not work the best for most of us here, but for him it would be fine.

  16. Bill Lublin

    April 2, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I just want to know who broke Jay’s arm – 🙂

  17. Gabe Sumner

    April 4, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Very neat! I would’ve been interested to attend this. Although I’m not a REALTOR, instead I’m a web programmer with a lot of experience dealing with IDX MLS systems (specifically ARMLS). Perhaps that makes me part of the problem? 🙂

    Cheers,

    Gabe Sumner
    Scottsdale, AZ

  18. Dru Bloomfield

    March 26, 2011 at 12:22 am

    As we get ready for REBCPHX3, it’s amazing to see how much the social media landscape has evolved, and how much the local community has grown. Little did we know…

  19. Steve Belt

    March 26, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Indeed Dru…little did we know.

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.

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Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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