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I Knew It Wouldn’t Work

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Get Your Pom Poms Ready

I market to a small walkable neighborhood with a hyper-focused blog. It’s my own little petri dish. There are all forms of real estate – SFR, town houses, lofts rentals. There’s also a variety of restaurants, a chain grocery and coffee shops.

The task: Become the face of the community.

The question: How?

The solution: Recruit.

Surprise

I thought I was going to get kicked out on my keester, but I approached the businesses with a cheer: Reciprocity! R-e-c-i-p-r-o-c-i-t-y! I’ll market you – you market me. Something totally unexpected happened. They said yes. Huh? What? Yes, we’d love to.

Remarkably it wasn’t just the sole proprietors. The chains are jumping in too. And guess what? The big daddys have marketing departments. See the vision?

You go into a shop or restaurant in this little pocket carrying a discount card that I’ve delivered and sign your check with a pen with my blog address on it – oooh, I can hear the clicks on my blog now. They’ve tripled. Business yet? Nope. I’m not discouraged. I’m expanding to another neighborhood.

Get out there and network – make friends. This will work in your neighborhood too.

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 Blog.com.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    August 11, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    There are all kinds of ways you can do this, not just with restaurants.

    Rock on!

  2. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    August 11, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    I LOVE the idea of reciprocity! I believe that other businesses that rely on referrals and word of mouth are the most understanding of this concept- hair stylists, maid services, interior designers, veterinarians and the like. Thanks for the inspiration, Vicki! 🙂

  3. Vicki Moore

    August 11, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Daniel – Out with it. Share your ideas man!

    Lani – I agree completely. This marketing project is one that I’ve had the most fun with. These businesses have been amazed that I want to help them – but it’s mutual. The first question they ask is how much. I also think that the economy has opened up people’s minds to new ways of growing their business.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    August 11, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Vicki – My broker actually just went with a similar idea for business cards. Our in house guy makes them cheap and they have 4 different discounts on the back…its a multi-use coupon basically. The only thing that stopped me from ordering them was the quality of the companies involved. I didn’t see the people I want to work with having a need for discounts at the places offered. Of course, this gives me an idea to strike out on my own and do some of this. I know of a couple of places in my local neighborhood that I think would be accepting of this sort of thing…and I could make it hyper-local at the same time. As Lani said, thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Brad Shaffer

    August 11, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    I absolutely love this idea. I am getting ready to launch two hyper-local blogs and websites with plans of incorporating restaurant and business reviews for the local area. This is a great way to further market your blog at a minimal cost. Fantastic!

  6. Paula Henry

    August 11, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    I love success stories! This is great Vicki – chalk up another for ingenuity:)

  7. Vicki Moore

    August 11, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Matt- I’ve seen those cards and thought about them too. The company I looked into required that you recruit the businesses yourself. That’s a way to get who you want on the card.

    Brad- That’s fantastic. I hope you’ll come back and share your experiences with it. I think you’ll find that the businesses will appreciate your help.

    Paula – Thanks. I hope you’ll give it a shot too.

  8. Upstart Agent

    August 11, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    That’s a great idea! It’s always nice to not be flat out rejected all the time. You’ll have to let us know how it works out & if it brings any business.

  9. Mike Taylor

    August 11, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Good on you! I think there is a lot of power in these hyperlocal blogs. Keep at it, the business will come.

  10. Holly White

    August 11, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Fantastic work Vicki! The idea is to become a household name in the neighborhood and it looks like you’re on your way. High five!

  11. Vicki Moore

    August 11, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks guys. I don’t want to be alone in this. Let’s all do it! — or maybe you want to see if it works. 🙂 It’s only been about two months – about 4 impressions.

  12. Jamey Bridges

    August 11, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Vicki,
    I like it! I think it’s grass roots ( a little viral too) and I always think that those out in their farm and have a blog can have some of the greatest impact. I look forward to hearing about your conversions next 🙂

  13. Daniel Rothamel, The Real Estate Zebra

    August 12, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Think about this: what are the most popular entities in your community? They may be restaurants, but they may be rec centers, or they may be museums, or they may be farmer’s markets, whatever. Promote THOSE things to the rest of the community. Establish relationships with those who run or coordinate for them. Those are the folks who are most plugged-in to what is going on, and who know the most (and more importantly, the right) people.

    Take a page out of the Jeff Turner book and go and interview those folks, talk about them on your blog, share their stories with people. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and everyone who runs a store or a community center, or any sort of entity that relies on the community wishes that they could get their story out to more people. Use the voice you have to help enhance theirs.

  14. Ines

    August 12, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Love it! I did something similar but your idea is more clever. I wrote about the restaurant on my blog and in return asked for them to put a cling-on (one of those sticker-like thingies) that reads miamism.com to put on their front door or the approach to the restaurant.

    I find that many people find the restaurants from the blog, but not vise versa…..the reciprocity is not all that great. Thanks for the idea!

  15. Vicki Moore

    August 12, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Jamey – Ooo. Viral – I think I like the sound of that.

    Daniel – I like it. Gotta get out that Flipcam.

    Ines – I heard you mention that cling-on thing before – I think that’s brilliant. I hope this idea is something you can add to what you’re already doing so successfully.

  16. Matthew Rathbun

    August 16, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Awesome! Way to go get ’em

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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