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Business Marketing

I Heart Outlook



The Magic Key

When I was new – and I hate to admit that occasionally I still do – look for the magic key to success in real estate.  I’ve purchased and bought into far too many products.  In fact, before you buy anything, call me.  I probably already have it.  I’m sure we can make a deal.

After going through several contact management products, I ended up where I started – back using Outlook. 

Pulling Out My Hair

I wish I knew how to email mail merge before, especially the other day when I was pulling out my hair.  I didn’t even think of it.  You too can send a “personalized” email to several people at once, which actually makes it completely unpersonal, but it looks personal.

All the instructions are there for you – probably in a better format than I could recreate here.  So go over there and look. 

The fact is that the price of a product sold to an agent is multiplied ten-fold compared to the same type of product sold to the average business person.  So before you buy into it, think about who their market share is.  If it’s just us, then look somewhere else.  Uh-oh, I’m getting on my soapbox again…

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate

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  1. Missy Caulk

    October 6, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I heart Outlook too, and that was a great tutorial. Thanks I subscribed and skimmed the topics of the blog so I am sure I will get many tips, if not I’ll call you. 🙂

  2. Will

    October 6, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    I also Heart Outlook… especially the customised version from Sonoma Enterprises called Active Agent. Very cool real estate modified outlook that gives you absolutely everything you could want from Outlook with a very simple layout, no monthly fees, and really terrific (from my experience) support.
    The website for this little known firm is
    (They really should do a better job marketing as I just stumbled on them once several years ago and while I have looked at others could not find a better bang for the buck).

  3. Dan Connolly

    October 6, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    I have been very happy with Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager. The only thing missing for me is that the program doesn’t have a field for spouse. I guess in business applications the spouse doesn’t exist. So to send a note to John and Mary Smith, John’s middle name has to be “and Mary”.

    The greatest feature is the email automatic linking, so any email in or out is automatically saved to the client file, so I can read it and erase it from the inbox yet it is there in the client’s file when I need it later.

  4. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 7, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Vicki – funny thing is that we use TP and about 2 months ago decided that they were not working and we should switch to outlook. I just have to get around to it – thanks for the push.

  5. Bob Schenkenberger

    October 7, 2008 at 11:08 am

    As much as I love Outlook, I continue to look for ways to increase the productivity and get away from the limitations. I use Outlook, and have an Exchange Server, so I can share contacts, and calendars with my team.

    I’m currently looking into migrating into gmail, google calendar, etc…

    Email is great, Calendar is OK, Contacts Suck, and no such thing as Task Management unless you go the add-on route with something like “Remember the Milk”.

    I’m love the sharing possibilities, not sure the funtionality will be sufficient.

    I’d love to hear from anyone else that has migrated from Outlook to Google, it sure would help me get rid of a $50/month hosted exchange bill!

  6. Vicki Moore

    October 7, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Missy – Please do. 🙂

    Will – Another option is{9E8F1F94-A443-4C4F-94FE-56CE967B4969} One of the few things I haven’t purchased so I can’t attest to how well it works.

    Ines – I had TP too. I had the software then switch to 8 – I think it is. I got sick of paying monthly for a ton of features I never used.

    Bob – I haven’t used Outlook-Google. Can someone help with that??

  7. Vicki Moore

    October 7, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Thanks Dan. Here’s a link to what Dan’s referring to:

  8. Patti Smith

    October 7, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you. This came at the right time as I have been reading reviews on the many products on the market. I am sure some of the products are more advanced than Outlook, but you can’t beat the cost.

  9. Vicki Moore

    October 8, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Patti – I agree. You can talk yourself into or out of buying something. I’ve gotten by just fine with Outlook. There are a lot of add-ons and ways to get around the shortfalls. I guess you just have to decide if the expenditure is worth it. Although it’s smart for the provider, I don’t like the monthly charge products – like Top Producer. It adds up to a ton of money.

  10. David Fanale

    October 20, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    I use Outlook for email and TP for contact management for recruiting agents for sending out letters and keeping notes. I am curious: If you are or would be recruited to another company, what method would work best?

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?



blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.



Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.



Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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