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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.

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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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

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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Business Marketing

Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.

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Man browsing Yelp for his business listing in open office environment.

We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.

For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.

In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.

In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.

You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.

How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.

If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!

In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.

So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:

  1. Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
  2. Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
  3. Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.

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