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Let’s Talk Online vs. Offline



Apple Store in Austin, TX

Who Buys Site Unseen?

There is only a small percentage of the economy that buys site unseen– we regular people down here in the middle group that actually make up the larger percentage of the economy can’t afford to make costly mistakes such as not seeing or touching the property.

This notion that a consumer will ever click “buy” and submit some kind of bank order number to complete the transaction in any great number with an email receipt is laughable. Would the top 1% do it? Sure.

Would it be cool as the kids say? Sure, but is it practical? No. Do I believe agents should multiply their reach online and offer great search tools? Yes, and should they provide the most outstanding offline service as well while creating new avenues of communication? Absolutely.

But Let’s Not Forget…

Those Mom & Pop 5/dimes went out of business, sure, but if you look really closely, only the name and size of the store changed- it just got bigger, and yes, it’s called Walmart. Is Walmart foolish for their billions in expansions offline? I don’t think so. They’re profitable.

They wanted Mom and Pop’s offline action. They do offer a shopping service online, but they spend major coin offline to complete that transaction, and they’re really not that inexpensive anymore when you factor in quality- try one of those offline outlet malls called Prime Outlets that are popping up all over the place.

Or how about the Saks 5th, or two new Nieman’s we have here in town- why didn’t they just stay online? The last I checked however, these babies weren’t reduced priced by any stretch.

Or how about Ikea? It was primarily an online player at one time, but today, they’re expanding big box retail all over the country.

As another example, banks tried to go online all together, but I swear it seems branches are popping up all over the place including Wachovia, Chase, Cap One, and Amp’d, to name just a few. The branch building got smaller and more nimble, but the numbers of box units have doubled in most cases.

I noticed the other day offline branches of those stock trading companies opening shop around the city too, and today we’re using a travel agent to book a hotel in a city we’re not familiar with (that also isn’t online).

We also have at least 6 new super targets btw, and they also have had an online presence, and the last time I checked their prices seem really high compared to two years ago…

Did the Little Guy Adapt?

But back to the top 1% and Walmart – same crap different day, only the name changes offline and the size of the store gets bigger and bigger. They roll in on lower prices, beat out the middle America guy, and then build a big building on his grave- that top 1% that buys luxurious homes online just made millions. It wasn’t that the little guy didn’t adapt, he just wasn’t in that top 1%.

Even Apple had to get offline to complete the transaction… Oh yeah, and what about Sprint… The list just goes on and on and on and on… and don’t forget those little ebay stores- we have one here in a 60 year old shop on Main, right next door to a mom and pop antique store.

The rapid expansion of commercial development is proof of the consumer’s demand for tangibility. What’s the lesson here?

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. ines

    June 30, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Funny thing about tangibility specially when you are blogging about it is that we have created ways to make products tangible through a screen. We, as web1.5 agents know the importance of it and work with it on a daily basis. (Although a few of us have learned to adapt to the non-tangible aspect of this medium)
    Did I change your whole concept around or what?? 😉 now I can’t wait to meet you, Lani and the rest of the gang in SF next month.

  2. Benn Rosales

    June 30, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Indeed – The 1.5 Agent I’ve coined is the way of the future. I may infact meet 90% of my clients with some form of online touch, but I will close 100% of them on the ground face to face.

  3. Teresa Boardman

    June 30, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    I have had clients buy site unseen. 🙂 they worked through me, but we used the internet and they did not see the homes they bought first. But I do agree with what you are saying here. I have a couple of sellers I have never met either. They live out of state and I never will meet them in person. They all see themselves as buying and selling over the internet. To them I think I am part of the internet. No I have never had a voice conversation with one of my sellers. I think what is the most important is to find out how people want to be communicated with and do it.

  4. Barry Cunningham

    June 30, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Demographics, Market Share, branding, visibility….that’s the lesson.

    One of the most successful online computer parts company (Tigerdirect) recently bought Compusa’s failed stores. According to Gilbert Fiorentino, CEO of TigerDirect,’s customer base will augment the customer base of, and the CompUSA retail stores will boost the company’s planned retail expansion.

    It will not supplant it’s online business.

    THis post may be better suited for argument if most (I said most) realtors understood the reasoning of these companies expanding their offline presence and further understood the methodology fueling said expansion.

    Is expansion of commercial development is proof of the consumer’s demand for tangibility..or rather a big part of an overall marketing plan to understand Demographics, supplement Market Share, increase branding, and extend visibility.

    As Richard Leeds, CEO of the parent company for TigerDirect said upon his acquisition for the offline stores and name of Compusa…”We believe the value of the CompUSA brand remains very high,” said Systemax CEO Richard Leeds, in a statement. “The company has a long legacy of value pricing, service, and customer loyalty among consumers nationwide. We view this acquisition as a strong complementary business to our TigerDirect operation.”

    Complementary and branding being the operative words in this regard.

  5. Paula Henry

    June 30, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Just as people want to look at, hold and play with an ipod, iphone or new Mac. most want a hands on experience when buying a home. There are exceptions; most, however, need to touch, feel and see a home before they purchase.

  6. Eric Blackwell

    July 1, 2008 at 5:32 am

    I think they want to consumate the deal tangibly. (bricks and mortar)…

    But they key is…Where do they start and how do they decide whom they will work with. I think bricks and mortar (to the extent of a buyer’s agent meeting them and showing them around) will always be part of the game, however, if they are deciding on a REALTOR via the internet and if buyers are more important than lister’s in the current market…what then?

  7. Mack in Atlanta

    July 1, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Eric hits on a very important part of the equation. Most buyers will want to lay their hands on the property they are buying but will shop for the agent that will help them online.

  8. Bill Lublin

    July 1, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    The internet is for porn lead generation and interfacing with consumers and other professionals. It is the tool which allows us to network as business people have from time imemorial – But in a business where each prodict is unique – if only by location, and condition is realtive and subjective, people will want to satisfy themselves that they are getting what they think they are getting. The stakes are just too high to believe otherwise.

    I spoke to an accomplished Blogger yesterday who was helping me through some wordpress manipulations, and he told me that he and his lovely wife were heading to th store to buy an appliance they had shopped for on the internet, but wanted to have in their hands immediately. And he was spedning less then $100 – so how about going into debt for 30 years and investing a large part of you rliquid cash? think you might want to get physical? I do

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Business Marketing

What entreprenuers can learn about branding from trendy startups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) What’s the secret of focused startup branding, and how can you apply it to large enterprises?



A set of wine from Craft Hugo, showing off pleasing branding in labels.

Think of your favorite brand. Is it the product they offer or the branding that you love? Exactly – brand ethos reigns supreme, especially with those trendy, aesthetically-pleasing startups (I never thought Glossier had good makeup, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t visit their website once or twice a month).

So let’s break it down.

Co-founder of Red Antler – a company that assists startups in creating successful branding – Emily Heyward believes in a few branding truths.

Firstly, you have to make sure not to market your brand as a single product or experience. Doing so, she says, will pigeonhole you and thus truncate your ability to expand and offer new products and services (she gives MailChimp, known almost exclusively for email marketing, as an example).

What Heyward does say to do is instead market an idea. For example, the brand Casper (one of Antler’s clients) markets itself as a sleep company instead of a mattress company. By doing this, they kept the door open to eventually offer other products, like pillows and bedding.

Heyward states that this “power of focus” is a way to survive – with countless other startups offering the same product or service, you have to position your company as offering something beyond the product. Provide a problem your customer didn’t know they had and offer an innovative solution through your product.

Ever used Slack, the app-based messenger? There were other messengers out there, so focus of Slack’s branding is that regular messaging is boring and that their app makes it more fun. And customers eat it up.

How can this logic apply to mid-to-large enterprises? How can you focus on one specific thing?

Again, placing emphasis on brand over products is essential – what is it about what you offer that makes your customers’ lives better? It’s more cerebral than material. You’re selling a better life.

Another thing to remember is that customers are intrigued by the idea of new experiences, even if the product or service being offered is itself not new. Try not to use dated language that’s colored by a customers’ preexisting feelings. Instead, find an exciting alternative – chat solutions are desperately trying move away from the word “chat”, which can bring to mind an annoying, tedious process, even though that is in fact what they offer.

Broadening the idea of focused brand ethos to a large company can be difficult. By following these tips and tricks from startups, your company can develop a successful brand ethos that extends beyond your best product or service.

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Business Marketing

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.



Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.



Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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