I see this room doesn’t have any cameras.” – George Clooney as Danny Ocean, Oceans 11
It started in the halls outside the grand ballroom of the Palace Hotel. “Jonathan Dalton,” the man said. “I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. I’m with Trulia.”
And it continued as I entered the lion’s den, Trulia’s cavernous warehouse-office. “This is Jonathan Dalton,” one would say with a knowing look. “Oh yes,” the second would answer. “I read you from time to time.”
Quick! Have someone else taste that margarita first!
Amazingly, there are no photographs to prove I was there. Just the bruised Mii of Chad Huck, who was pummeled into submission in Wii Boxing, slowly getting bandaged in a corner.
It seems I’m fairly well known in that office, at least to everyone save poor Donald, the IT man who started the evening as Trulia’s Marker Man. Why? Because I tend to talk about Trulia Voices, a platform that has great intentions but often is poorly executed by the community at large.
Here’s the basic concept … the general public comes on and asks questions. In theory, an expert in that local market (or two or three) would respond to the question in a straight-forward manner. Often, this happens. Just as often, small details like the Code of Ethics and the Fair Housing Act are blown away.
Want to hear the most refreshing part? The folks at Trulia know this as well as anyone. But in the interest of trying to build a community, they’re attempting to let the community police itself. And, if I’m going to be honest, it’s probably the best way to go.
Well … make that the second-best way. My solution? A benevolent dictator. A man with a plan. A man with a beagle. A man who could not only vote thumbs down on a stupid answer but delete the answer and banish the answering agent to a lifetime of weekly office meeting sales pitches on a continual loop in the seventh circle of hell.
You’re kidding, right?
Ummm … sure I am. Heh heh. Sure.
In any event, since such power doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon, can I make some suggestions?
1) Actually have an answer. This may seem complicated but if you don’t know the answer, don’t answer the question. And please, please, please don’t answer questions about a specific area with something along the lines of “I’ve never heard of your city and hope I never have to go there, but can I refer you to someone?”
2) Stop asking the folks if they have an agent. For the most part, if they wanted to have an agent, they would go find an agent. With incredibly rare exceptions, this isn’t a job interview.
3) Hold your ground. I basically turned “Jane” into Verrado into a recurring theme on my blog. Guess what? When she finally bought a house, where do you think she announced it? I’m even working on an invtiation to the barbecue.
Yeah, as the main course, Porky.
4) Stay local. Answer questions in your own area. Leave the rest of the country to the experts there. And I’ll give you one exception, courtesy of Debbie Madey … if it’s a general question, such as “how do I choose an agent” … go for it. As she pointed out, even if the person asking is in Kansas City, here people in Jersey will see her answer and find her through the search engines. Even I can’t argue with that logic.
5) Don’t sound so desperate. This one ought to be self-explanatory.
RE 2.0 gives agents the opportunity for otherwise undreamed of exposure. But that exposure can turn for the worst when agents put marketing themselves ahead of helping the clients out there looking.
Only 625 words, kid … take a bow!