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Initial Blogging Class Coming Tuesday

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Most in my office roll their eyes (or worse) when I mention the Internet, to the point that I have reversed course and mockingly tell everyone the web is a myth anything the subject of electronic prospecting comes up.

Some, however, believe there’s more to what we are doing on the Internet than some form of electronic voodoo. For them, I’ve developed a one-hour entry-level course on blogging that will make its debut Tuesday after our regular weekly sales meeting. A similar course will be coming to First American Title early in 2008.

Obvious questions include why I would feel the need to help the competition. Except the folks I’m meeting with don’t really constitute competition. I don’t mean that to sound as egotistical as it likely does, but you’re not going to learn enough in a one-hour primer to seriously challenge what I’m doing.

At the same time, for those who actually apply what I explain (which would be a first as based on the utter lack of response to the 2006 “web presence” classes I also taught in my office), the sky’s the limit.

Blogs, when done well (notice I won’t say right because I don’t believe there’s a right way … though I oddly enough believe there’s a wrong way. Makes sense only to me, perhaps), are remarkably sticky. They have value on the search engines. And they can give you a cache in your neighborhood almost no amount of postcards can match.

Best of all you don’t need to be a great writer. Those who can write tend to do so at length (and often overly at length, like me.) Those who can’t write as well focus on shorter posts with graphics and links. It’s not rocket science. It’s not all-consuming (though many of us find we spend more time on the blogs than we ever imagined.)

Most of all it’s not voodoo. It’s a concerted, focused marketing tool that can assist in areas from branding to prospecting to recruiting (for the brokers in the crowd.)

A dozen people are signed up for the initial go-around. If I can convert even one to the new world of real estate, I’ll consider the day a success.

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Todd Carpenter

    December 8, 2007 at 1:49 am

    I’ve done a few trainings now and have come to the conclusion that it’s fine to help the “competition” because most bad actors wont bother to blog.

    There might be an exception, but I’ve yet to meet an RE blogger who I know for sure that I wouldn’t do business with. You have to want to help your clients to write a blog and keep it going.

    More bloggers mean more good guys getting over on the bad guys.

  2. Jonathan Dalton

    December 8, 2007 at 9:34 am

    I’m with you, Todd … I’ve seen a couple I’d have to think hard about, though. 🙂

    If you commit to the blog and start reading all that is out there, you can’t help but become better at what you do.

  3. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    I disagree that you don’t need to be able to write well to blog. You don’t have to be perfect; that’s for sure. Clearly the vast majority of people cannot write well enough to blog. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t successful. In fact, the wealthiest people I know are terrible writers. I am shocked when someone I know to be worth millions makes errors in emails such as using the word “right” instead of “write.” Some folks have horrendous grammar and spelling, putting blogging out of reach. There is, however, a way that those people can still blog. They just need to have their copy edited. WordsRu.com does this, and for a small fee.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    December 8, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Being able to write and being able to spell are two different things, at least to me. Repeated poor spelling will make a post unreadable but a typo now and again won’t.

    Some of the more successful bloggers I know are famous/infamous for their typos. And I can’t tell you many times I’ve seen someone use “loose” rather than “lose” over the past two months. Probably two dozen.

    My point was you don’t have to write a novella every time out. I do but I’m also an overwriting gasbag. If you can’t write well for more than three or four sentences go with links, photos, graphs, whatever you have available.

    I also believe those who stick with blogging become better writers in time through force of habit and through reading other blogs.

  5. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    From emails I receive, the amount of people who can put a few good sentences together is few. I’m not talking about the misuse of a word here and there. I’m talking about extremely poor writing skills being more commonplace than people who can write even close to correctly. Blogging is out of reach except to a precious few. The good news is that ghost writers will re-write articles for $5-$10 per pop. That’s a far better strategy than trying to teach an old dog new tricks. If someone is in the 30-60 range and can’t write well, chances are that person will never be able to write well. I say pay a professional to turn your thoughts into a publishable piece.

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    December 8, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    But those posts lack any semblance of a voice or of anything that might cause anyone to come back. They sound canned, looked canned, feel canned.

    It might be a solution for the most dire of cases but in that case you’re almost better off scrapping the blogging concept entirely.

  7. Jonathan Dalton

    December 8, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    And I’m not arguing blogging is for everyone. Clearly it isn’t. It takes time, it takes thought, it takes commitment, it takes intelligence and it takes some level of grammatical and compositional competence.

  8. Athol Kay

    December 8, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    Only in his own town, amongst his own people, is a prophet without honor.

    Trust me, you could offer the same class two States over and people would just assume you were the fo’ sizzle of blogging and that blogging was vital for them to do.

    I suspect the best form of teaching is simply to get people to read the RE blogs as a jumping off point. If they do that and then catch the bug, they’ll be fine.

  9. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Jonathan-

    I’m not talking about someone writing the blog from scratch. I’m referring to the RE professional writing the post and the copy writer simply fixing it. That won’t sound or feel canned. That is how most major books are written. Do you really think that celebrities and politicians write their own books? No. They write them and then a ghost writer fixes the text. It will work if someone who can’t write really wants to blog, and the cost is minimal.

  10. Athol Kay

    December 8, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Colorado Online Mortgage – Can you point to a RE blog that is successfully ghost written?

  11. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Athol-

    Absolutely NOT. I cannot point to a blog that is ghost written. However, did you read John McEnroe’s biography? I have a sneaking suspicion that he didn’t write it. I write my own two cents, but I’m just putting something out there for those who don’t have that ability. Call me a pioneer; I won’t contradict you.

  12. Athol Kay

    December 8, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    John McEnroe = World Famous
    Average Blogger = Not World Famous

    World Famous people get read despite being ghostwritten.

    Also a good part of blogging is commenting and being an actual presence across the web community. Ghostwritten blogs aren’t likely to get linked back or noticed like even a badly written but active blog/blogger will be.

    To a real extent the blog = the blogger. Good writing helps to be sure, but what causes any kind of response to your writing is your voice.

  13. ines

    December 8, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    I don’t consider myself a good writer but I can tell you that you only get better by doing it and when I look back at posts from a year ago, I’ve come a long way.

    That’s the beauty of blogging. For those that are great at formal letter writing, their blog comes out as stiff and boring – LA LA LA LA LA…..need some VOICE lessons.

  14. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Ines-

    Good for you for jumping in the cold lake water and swimming.

    Athol-
    You say, “what causes any kind of response to your writing is your voice.” The question is: do bloggers make any money? Does blogging generate leads that you couldn’t generate the old-fashioned way? Indeed that is the question. We may be yelling, but is anyone listening? I have yet to make my first dollar blogging, but I haven’t been at it that long.

  15. Athol Kay

    December 9, 2007 at 8:59 am

    >>The question is: do bloggers make any money? Does blogging generate leads that you couldn’t generate the old-fashioned way?

    That is indeed the question. In my opinion it is an ineffective tool used by itself, it’s likely best used as a landing platform for other marketing attempts (i.e. business cards, handshaking, direct mail etc etc).

    Also there is a huge “chicken or the egg” problem. If you are already established an an agent, blgging seems to pay off much faster than if you a new agent breaking into the field.

    I will say this though – the primary blogging cost is time rather than money. Newspaper ads are simply gone once they run, your blog is forever. It can develop and snowball over time.

    Though I don’t encourage anyone to expect much return in terms of leads etc in the first year of a blog. That’s like burying an apple core in the backyard and getting angry you don’t have a fruit bearing tree after just a couple weeks.

  16. Ines

    December 9, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Athol – blogging takes time, that’s a fact but I can tell you that you can definitely expect leads in the first year if you play your cards right.
    The whole concept is to read your analytics and make sure you are writing for your customers. I can tell you that I have achieved a balance of different types of articles on my blog and the real estate advice ones as well as the architectural ones are the ones that get me leads. The fun ones don’t but I need them for balance.

    Once again, it’s not easy, but you really need to study who you want your audience to be in order to make it profitable.

  17. Jonathan Dalton

    December 9, 2007 at 10:17 am

    I’m in escrow thanks to the blog, so it does work for leads. It also helps with SEO which in turn will help with additional leads.

    CO – just caught up and it was my mistake in reading what you were saying. There is a HUGE difference between a ghost-written post and one reviewed by a copy editor.

    Now … I’m also a recovering journalist so I tend to despise all editors as tin-eared cretans with no sense of style … but that’s just me. 🙂

  18. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 9, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Athol-

    Your points are well made. One question: do you see any benefit to blogging versus developing a content-rich website? Websites and blogs both establish Internet presence, but is there any benefit to one over the other as long as content is being added to both?

  19. Athol Kay

    December 9, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I only see minimal difference between blogging and developing a content rich website. The majority of my content rich website pages are repackaged blog posts anyway.

    Ines – I’ve made copius mistakes in content and tone over my first year, so some of that lack of response is no doubt my fault.

    I will stand by feeling that blogging is a slow but steady creation though. It’s huge advantage over other forms of advertising is it’s permanance though.

  20. Ines

    December 9, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Athol – we signed 2 listing agreements this past week alon because of our blog. “Permanence” is definitely an incredible benefit.

  21. Mariana

    December 10, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Because of blogging we have had multiple out-of-state clients (sellers) find and hire us … because of our blog. The blog is defnitely further reaching IMHO than a website.

  22. Mariana

    December 10, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    In my research, people like bloggers better than real estate agents. At least BLOGGERS are not in the top 5 most distrusted professions …

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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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Business Marketing

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.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

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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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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