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Business Marketing

It’s the Premise, Stupid.



This grin comes over my face every time I hear the “worn and torn” arguments against  internet marketing. It is possible that your follow up stinks, like your favorite Lead Reseller likes to say.  It could  be that your leads are weak, Glengarry style. Perhaps it is because you require registration in your IDX (which equals murder, by the way). All that could very well be true. But it’s not the reason why internet marketing is not working for you. The truth is you might have never had a chance to begin with…

It’s the premise, stupid.

Internet marketing works for a lot of people – many of them in real estate. Stratospheric return on investment rates driven by rows upon rows of skinned cats generated at relatively minuscule costs. Internet marketing is spinning wheels in the mud that get nowhere for a lot of people, too.  Ever wonder why that is? Is it because the first group are smarter, geekier, more forward thinking visionaries while the second are tech-challenged Jurassic Park residents? Not in the slightest. What the first group understand that the second one doesn’t is this:

Prospects generated by your marketing are as good as

the premise that was used to get their information.

Think about that for a second. Once you grasp that concept, you can look at marketing through a brand new lens.  Now you see why leads generated by that “Enter your name, win a free iPod” banner ad are bored 12 year olds? Do you understand now that offering a free CMA will get you many names but not very many Sellers? Is it clear now why that sugarfrosted “Why Rent, when you can own for $150/mo” sign makes the phone ring off the hook with suspects that have less than a popsicle’s chance in hell to get approved? It’s the premise.

Four tips to convert more prospects into clients

Now that your thinking is along the correct wavelength, how can you translate it into more Washington mini-portraits and less frustration.

Ask for MORE information, not less

I see countless cases of “just enter your name and email” contact forms on websites. From personal experience, that’s a huge mistake especially in our field. If your goal was to build a fat list of names and email addresses, that’s the way to do it. But take your list to your local banking institution and ask them to convert it into cash and get back to me. Serious prospects have no problem filling out contact forms so ask appropriately. In our forms, we started asking for phone numbers, timeframe for purchase and if they’re already working with someone, upfront. It will help you focus your effort on the prospects that you actually have a chance at converting into clients.

Give browsers room to breathe

You know that feeling you get when you step into a store just to look, only to have a pushy salesman unfold a whole script on ya? That’s how a lot of prospects feel when you bombard them with questions, emails, newsletters immediately after they filled out a form for more information. The solution is: Give your prospects a chance to say that they wish to be left alone for the moment. It will save you many-a-hangup.

Tailor your follow up to your premise

If your strategy is to offer a free whitepaper in exchange for an email address, so you can then utilize an email campaign to convert them,  you must realize that results might take a while to surface. So take a consistent but long term approach and make sure you see it through the whole way. If instead you are looking to generate prospects of a property that’s a good value and available for a short time (i.e. foreclosure), you must establish contact right away so you will need a phone number. Likewise, if your prospect clearly indicates they’re not ready to move for another 3-6 months, realize that you will not convince them to rearrange their life to fit your pipeline needs. Adapt your approach to the premise.

Sharp Call for Action

The flavor of your marketing message does not matter as much as the substance of it. If your call to action is anything other than the prospect asking to be contacted and provided more information, the results won’t be as stellar. That’s the reason why a someone registering in your IDX (so they can move forward) are less likely to convert (at first) than the prospect that requests information for a specific property they found using your IDX. How you structure your call to action has a lot to do with the prospect’s willingness to provide the information you need to contact them.


Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...

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  1. Ed Kohler

    September 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Great post, Erion. It’s interesting how many people say “we need more leads” when they’re not first creating a quality experience that is capable of generating the types of qualified leads they’re really interested in. For example, agents working under the premise that providing property photos online will keep the phone from ringing are likely steering people away from their listings and generating “leads” of people who are not nearly as qualified as someone who’s thoroughly reviewed a property online before contacting an agent.

  2. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    September 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I like he form. Not too much. Enough to see if they really want to take the next step or, as you say, just browsing. My personal challenge seems to come with the number of visitors. Who knows? I may be going about it all wrong but my guess is that you still need the numbers even if you have the right premise.

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    September 17, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    One item missing from my form that I need to add is the timeframe … was there once upon a time.

    Beyond that … it’s still a numbers game. More leads in the front end equals more conversions on the back end. That assumes they’re real, convertible leads.

    Have a love/hate relationship with the folks that say they have an agent. Added a field asking for the agent’s name just for the folks who may be saying yes for the hell of it but at the end of the day probably is best to realize they just don’t want to be bothered and focus instead on those who want to buy.

  4. Daria Kelly Uhlig

    September 18, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Excellent points. Statistically, having more leads in general may result in more qualified leads over time, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to higher profits. It’s not only a numbers game. It’s also one of productivity. We have to factor in time lost chasing bad leads that could’ve been devoted to more productive activities.

  5. Ken Brand

    September 18, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I concur Rainman. Your stuff makes me pause and think, which is good and important. My main take away – “Before I run off quarter-cocked, I should sit and think-hard, “What’s my premise”, “What’s my goal”, “Who am I speaking too.”

    Wise words.

  6. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 18, 2009 at 9:07 am


    Like the post. Well thought out and full of good information, I think I learned something. I completely agree with the theory here and have never targeted anything other than well, targeted traffic for my site. (..allow myself to introduce myself….A. Powers)

    I like your form, asking for a tick more information. I once read a statistic that the typical internet home shopper is 6-9 months away from doing anything, if ever, and I’ve seen this pan out myself over the last few years. So a lot of success has to do with what one does with the leads after getting them.

    Your article was great so I won’t debate this one with you:

    “Perhaps it is because you require registration in your IDX (which equals murder, by the way).”

    I will just say that the ONLY way I would ever NOT require registration is if my site traffic was SO HIGH that I wanted to use registration as a screen.

    Rob in Atlanta

  7. Missy Caulk

    September 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Asking the time frame is good. I will tell you that many people say a year out and when you call are ready now and thankful for the call.

  8. Bob

    September 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    “you require registration in your IDX (which equals murder, by the way).”

    What proof do you have to back up this statement? If you are writing on AG for the sake of helping people, then stating an opinion as fact, with little facts to back it up, is irresponsible. If you are wrong, which I think you are, then this statement is even worse.

    Come on Erion – prove it!
    Give me something solid. Give me solid data. Give me numbers and time frames. Give me user behavior. Give me something more than an agent’s opinion.

    Show me yours and I’ll show you real data.

  9. Bob

    September 20, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    “In our forms, we started asking for phone numbers, timeframe for purchase and if they’re already working with someone, upfront. It will help you focus your effort on the prospects that you actually have a chance at converting into clients.”

    Tell me why this doesn’t apply to IDX as well?

  10. Erion Shehaj

    September 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm


    I was being sarcastic RE: IDX registration. Probably should have qualified it with a smilie or something. I am a BIG believer in requiring IDX registration.

  11. bob

    September 21, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Thanks for clarifying.

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.



headphones listen podcasts

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace,, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…



family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.



side hustle paperwork and technology

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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