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How the Internet Delivered me From a Lifetime of Mediocrity

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I’ve had my share of luck in my life, most of it good luck, so generally I live with an expectation that things will almost always get better. In my wildest dreams I never would have expected the whole world to change to accommodate me, but it did.

Even in the early stages of my real estate career I felt I was a good agent. I was technically proficient; I understood the importance of business systems, client service, follow-up, a positive attitude, professionalism and much of the other stuff that makes a good real estate agent good.

I had my share of weaknesses as well and naivety topped the list. I had this crazy idea that everyone I knew would soon be calling for expert assistance in buying or selling a home. It hadn’t occurred to me that those who knew me best also knew that I was greener than green and they might be a little hesitant to trust me with one of their most important investments.

I quickly learned that “prospecting” was another of my weaknesses. My most recent work experience was in broadcast sales where I had a list of “clients” who expected to hear from me. I was always pretty comfortable calling people at the office when I wanted to develop a new account but the idea of cold calling into people’s homes, or knocking on their door unannounced wasn’t working for me. The thought of soliciting private sellers and previously expired listings was even less appealing. I will most certainly starve to death before I ever call into a stranger’s home, without an introduction, to solicit their business. I probably should have failed.

I poured money into advertising with limited results, held some open houses with some success, and worked hard to keep in touch with my “sphere of influence” using traditional methods like newsletters and calendars. After a couple of years, and before I had completely depleted my savings some referrals started to come and I managed to keep my head above water. Still, I was living from one paycheck to the next and just managing to keep the bills paid. It was a life of mediocrity to say the least, and I knew that only I was standing in the way of my own success. Why couldn’t I pick up that damned phone or knock on a few doors?
I’m sure that it was “creative avoidance” that was behind my interest in computers. It was something that I could rely on to get in the way of those prospecting activities and I used it to the fullest spending countless hours organizing my business and my “client base.”

If I was interested in computers, I was totally swept away by my discovery of the Internet and before long, I was spending several hours online each day, exploring and learning. I read everything I could find about real estate and how the business was about to change. There wasn’t much out there at the time, but all that I read convinced me that I could find a way to get ahead of the changes that were coming. I had found a passion for the business and I found it in a place that nobody else in my market was looking.

I won’t bore you with the details of how my small team and I came to dominate the online real estate world in my area. 🙂 I will say that every minute that I spent with a computer was a valuable one that paid off in spades. The hours that I “wasted” online have ultimately brought me more business than I ever expected I might be involved in.

I’ve come to love my prospecting time. We don’t make cold calls. We don’t knock on doors. We don’t go anywhere without an invitation. Instead, I write it, they read it, and we discuss it. Often we come to know each other and end up working together. As far as I’m concerned there is no better way to prospect, but then, I’m hardly an authority on prospecting.

I’m a lucky guy. After all, the world literally changed to accommodate me.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Paula Henry

    July 22, 2008 at 8:16 am

    Norm – I, too have spent endless hours studying what works, how others have accomplished what i want to and how to rise above mediocrity. BTW – that’s me at the front door, hoping no one will answer 🙂

    Please do bore me with the details!

  2. Chuck G

    July 22, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Um…Norm,

    I hate to be the one to break this to you, but your blog is a waste of time. They don’t work. But don’t worry, mine doesn’t work either. And the blogs of the thousands of other AG readers aren’t worth the virtual paper that they’re printed on.

    My opinion? Of course not. But it IS the opinion of no less that PropertyMinder, one of the leading agent websites. Check this out:

    https://blog.propertyminder.com/imarketing-/bid/4673/Should-real-estate-agents-blog-No

    So after you finish replying back to those 5 leads you just picked up from your blog, be sure to make it a top priority to shut your blog down today, and stop trying to creatively use the internet to increase your business.

    …because it doesn’t work. After all, I read it online 🙂

  3. Bill Lublin

    July 22, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Norm; There is no substitute for doing something – whatever that is. As Seneca sai,”Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. ” Or something like that.
    Looks like you might have met anopportunity 😉

  4. Norm Fisher

    July 22, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Paula,

    I think there’s a bit of that in all of us.

    Chuck,

    Yes, but the blog doesn’t slam the door in my face or hang up a phone in my ear.

    Bill,

    Exactly what I was thinking as I thought about Chuck’s comment, and to be clear, I don’t mean to “knock” other forms of prospecting. Like you, I believe that anything can work with sufficient effort, determination and a desire to get better at it. These are things that I was personally not able to muster for door knocking and cold calling.

    The biggest producer in my office does very little online marketing but she’s an absolute star in the open house arena. She does a few each week and rarely leaves without a new client. I know another big producer in another office who still thrives on door knocking. If she has 15 minutes to burn, she does it on someone’s doorstep. All the power to them.

    For me, the irony lies in the fact that I found something I enjoy, that works for me, while attempting to avoid those things I hated. At the time, I’m sure my broker had told me I would not succeed without doing them.

  5. Glenn fm Naples

    July 22, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Norm – visited your blog and truly like it and the information you have posted there, it shows you are knowledgeable about your market area.

    Probably the big reason for your success with online marketing – you enjoy and rarely experience the in the face or in the ear rejection.

    I really liked your graphics with the statistics.

  6. Glenn fm Naples

    July 22, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Forgot to close the blockquote, like Dan Connolly in another post said – wish there was an edit function here. 🙂

  7. Norm Fisher

    July 22, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks Glenn. Those graphics are easy to do if you use Photoshop or PS Elements. Start with any photo as your background layer. Add a new white layer, and then lower the opacity till you like what you see. Stack your text on top of it.

  8. Justin in Kauai

    July 22, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    It’s good to hear there’s other people out there with the same passion as me about learning on the Internet. I went to college and majored in Geology. After I got out of school, I realized I wasn’t really that interested in rocks. But the web was awesome, and I’ve learned everything I know about marketing online. There’s a wealth of information there for anybody willing to learn.

  9. Glenn fm Naples

    July 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Norm – I PS Elements and working to get a good handle on it. Thanks for giving me the steps you have used. Right now my graphs are all excel generated and finished in PS Elements. Will try playing with tomorrow.

  10. Vicki Moore

    July 22, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    I certainly can relate to what you’re saying. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  11. Joel Ives

    July 23, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Justin, you should have went to school for Googeology instead of Geology. Google is by far the best way to prospect for customers but it has a lot of variables to it and a steep learning curve. Good luck to everyone.

  12. Michelle Berry

    July 25, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Norm, you are totally singing my song in this post. I read it a couple days ago and went on a profile setting up/beefing up binge all over the ‘nets. You have given me a much needed shot of inspiration! I’ve been blogging for a fair amount of time, on some social networking sites, and had sat in one of Nick Bostic’s classes a few weeks back. At that time I timidly dipped my toe in the pool of social networking, but really stepped it up this week. Low and behold, yesterday I received my first lead from my new efforts. So Norm, you officially rock!

  13. Norm Fisher

    July 25, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Hey Michelle.

    You rock, cause you did the work. Way to go! Thanks so much for dropping back to let me know of your success. Let’s get to work on the next one. 🙂

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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nostalgia

Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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