I like Seth Godin
I really do. I think much of what he has written about marketing is nothing short of genius. And I think his ideas about permission based marketing are right on the on the money. But even our heroes can make mistakes, and I think Seth has made one recently.
In a recent post, Seth wrote;
Travel agents… gone.
Stock brokers… gone.
Real estate brokers… in trouble. Photographer’s agents, too.
The problem with being a helpful, efficient but largely anonymous middleman is pretty obvious. Someone can come along who is cheaper, faster and more efficient. And that someone might be the customer aided by a computer.
Not sure I agree with him here. Real Estate agents may be in trouble, but that’s more the result of the economy and the lack of credit liquidity than the function of our job. Our job is not to be “a helpful, efficient but largely anonymous middleman” but to fulfill a number of functions for the consumer, only one of which involves sifting through data on the computer.
Seth Doesn’t “Get Us”
Some house sellers hesitate to pay real estate brokers because they don’t believe the 6% payment is an opportunity, they see it as a tax.
I might agree with him here, but this is more a function of the seller’s lack of knowledge than anything else, and certainly has not changed in the last 101 years. It has always been a challenge to explain to the seller the value that is added by our services, and many agents have a tough time articulating exactly what they bring to the process as well. In fact, I believe that the main reason some agents have a tough time negotiating commission is because they don’t fully understand what they bring to the table. That’s a subject that is deep enough and complex enough for another post, so I’ll ask that you take my word for it here, and just remember that properties that are sold by agents generally sell for more money than homes that are not listed by an agent. So let’s assume that the increased sales price,reduction of risk, third party negotiating, and navigation through a complicated legal process are sufficient value for the sake of this post.
We Know Who We Are
Key point: anonymous agents are interchangeable and virtually worthless. Agents that don’t do anything but help one side find the other side in a human approximation of Google aren’t so helpful any more.
Think about how anonymous the typical real estate broker is. He will sell almost any house or represent almost any buyer. When selling a house, he has a fiduciary responsibility to represent that house to the best of his ability. Just like every other broker. The great real estate brokers do far more than this.
OK Seth, here’s is where I really get some heartburn. The fact that our skills are transportable from one buyer or seller to the next, and are not defined by the property (with the exception of specialized disciplines) does not mean we are anonymous. Nor does it mean that we do the same thing over and over again or that we are interchangeable.
We Know What We Do
We don’t represent house. We represent people. We determine their needs and then we do what needs to be done to help them meet those needs. Its not our fiduciary responsibility to represent the client, it is our professional obligation. Doing that means different things to different people. And while the line “The great real estate brokers do far more than this” sounds good, it doesn’t make any sense to me. How do you do more than the best you’re able to do? We don’t all finish the race at the same time, even if we all start together, but that’s a function of our talent, training, skills, and effort, not the market or the technology.
To thrive in a world of self-service, agents have to hyperspecialize, have to stand for something, have to have the guts to say no far more than they say yes. No, you can’t publish this book. No I won’t represent you. No, don’t take that flight. No, I won’t sell this house, it’s overpriced, list it yourself.
Again Seth, this was always the case in our business. We have been training agents for years not to take the overpriced listing, to provide the right advice when its what the client needs to hear even if its not what the client wants to hear.Again, like some many others, Seth doesn’t fully understand the job of the real estate agent, and thinks its just a matter of putting the property in the MLS and then taking a nap until the property is sold.
Finally We can Agree Again
When markets change, agents can lead the way, not follow along grudgingly.
At last we can agree. Though I don’t think our expertise is going to eliminated by technology, it is important that as agents we lead the way. That we stay educated, understand the challenges facing our consumers. Guide them through the process in the smoothest way possible. Minimize their costs, and their legal exposure, while assisting them in obtaining terms that are preferential to them. All things that are easy for the do it yourself person to achieve, even with an awesome computer and a lightning fast interface to the largest database of properties in their market.
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 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.
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.
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?
Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume
(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.
MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?
Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?
The short answer? Heck no.
As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.
(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)
“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”
It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”
A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.
Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.
That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.
In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.
It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.
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