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Out with the Old, In with the New

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Old Things Pass Away

Sometimes you just have to say good-bye.

Sometimes it is just not working out the way you hope it would or the way it started out working.

I found myself in that position for the last three years and I finally just did it.

I got a new web-site. Now that you can relax and know I am still happily married after 31 years let me tell you about the journey.

We start out with a web-site, don’t know much about SEO, source code, writing, buyer’s behavior, sellers behavior, key words etc… But, as we grow we learn more and more and realize that the old is just not working as it did a few years ago.

In my situation I had been with Number1Expert since 1999. At first I was one of four other agents in Ann Arbor.I got a lot of leads and although the site was expensive it more than paid for itself. In fact I closed 10-12 transactions from it each year. Like most Realtors I don’t mind paying for marketing IF it is working and for years it was.

Make Way for New Things

But, times change, people change, companies are bought and sold, and we grow. I found myself frustrated having to wait for a web-master to change things that I had learned how to do.

So after debating with myself for three years, I made the change.

Loyalty can be good or bad, right?

I hung on…debated…gave them opportunity to grow and evolve with Social Media, blogging etc… it just wasn’t going to happen.

New Wine

In the Real Estate Industry things change too. We are dealing with banks, short sales, loan mod’s and foreclosures. Yea, I didn’t want to do that either and use to refer them out. But, found out in my area, if I was going to still be successful I had to embrace them.

Learning and growing requires change. You know the saying, “you can’t put new wine in an old wineskin, or it will break and crack the skin and the wine will spill out.”

New is exciting, fun and yes stretching. I can now inform the consumer about all the neighborhoods and subdivisions available in my area. If I was relocating, I would want to know what a neighborhood looked like, what price range of homes were there, what the style of homes were, and what the market trends were in an area.

Just like the photo, the old must move out of the way so new growth can come.

What new things are you currently adding or changing in your business?

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Elaine Reese

    April 30, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I’m in a similar situation with my web site which I began in ’99. It was originally with Homeseekers but has changed owners since. They haven’t kept up with SEO improvements and are unwilling to make changes to the back-end. I’ve customized it as much as I can but the subdomain pages get no Google juice. This year rather than sign up for a full year service, I’m on month-to-month so I can do “out with the old”.

  2. Matt Stigliano

    April 30, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Missy – Looks good. It is hard to let go of “old friends” sometimes. I like the neighborhood feature and it gave me an awesome idea actually. So not only am I happy for you, but I owe you one too.

  3. Lani Rosales

    April 30, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Missy, the bottom line is that change is hard, so sometimes I’m just used to a product despite its effectiveness. Email is a good example, I’ve just recently moved from Outlook to Gmail and find it to be more suitable to MY career. I *should* learn Photoshop since I do so much graphic design but anything with a high learning curve can be scary, right? Change is hard- good on ya for finally making that leap!

  4. Brad Rachielles

    April 30, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for the timely post. Just decided to make the same change yesterday having been comfortable with the old site because I had better things to do. This is part of the insanity of expecting the different results by doing the same old things.

    While I’m tempted to blame the provider for not staying up on changes in SEO, not providing other tools du jour and doing nothing on my (the client’s) behalf to improve my results, I suddenly realize that the buck stops here.

    Your new site looks great. Please do a follow-up on this in a few months to let us know if the 10-12 transactions from the old site have been equaled/bettered by the new page.

  5. Drew Meyers

    April 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    The site looks great Missy – congrats. I couldn’t help but notice that the default rate on your mortgage calculator is 8%, which isn’t quite up to date. Of course I’m biased, but have you considered using rates from Zillow Mortage Marketplace to give consumer a feel for what current rates are?

    FYI that there is no title tag on your good place to retire page. SEO wise, would be worth fixing.

  6. Cindy Marchant

    April 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Missy, you are always a leader so I’m sure your decision will influence many. You are so far ahead of me; heck I’m still with a templated website because I’m so cheap! The new look is great and the blue and gold could be mistaken for Notre Dame!! (But, I know better!)

  7. Missy Caulk

    April 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Drew write a post, email it to me and I will add it as a page. The default was from Dakno so I will have them change it.

    How did you find he no follow link, I have a lot of links in that post, which link?

  8. Drew Meyers

    April 30, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Missy-
    It’s the title tag that I found. I didn’t find a nofollow link.

    Does this blog post work for you? If you’re looking for something specific, just let me know what you want me to send you.

  9. Missy Caulk

    April 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Brad, yes I will do that, already getting leads on it.

    Lani, my friend at Google asked me why if I am using all the other apps at Google, I don’t use Gmail. LOL I guess I am just use to doing all my folders in Outlook and now Mail which works the same way. I know folks who use it love it and I have a gmail account just forward to my missycaulk.com email.

    Matt, glad it helped I’ll just have to take you up on that with you being a Mac user. I’m still learning.

    Elaine, well it took me 3 years to finally take the plunge.

    Cindy, GO BLUE!!! 🙂

  10. Jim Rake

    April 30, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Missy – I, too, recently took the REW plunge. They’re building it as we speak. Hard to argue with their quality.

    And, you hit the nail on the head -“Learning and growing requires change”, and, smarter choices make the growing a bit less painful.
    Looks like you’ve done just that!

  11. Missy Caulk

    April 30, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Jim, Dakno marketing built mine but I am adding content to it daily.

    Drew, can I just copy that, you might want to email me with your contact info so we can chat a minute about the rates. I did have Dakno change it to the six % and you have kept me busy going back to add my title tags all day.

  12. Jim Rake

    May 1, 2009 at 5:39 am

    OOPS – I stand corrected – guess that’s what happens when I read too quickly!

    Well, obviously your site speaks for itself – lots of good stuff, content rich.

    It’s interesting (and a bit disappointing) to examine agent’s sites, when Swanepoel’s survey and others let us know exactly what consumers are looking for, yet many agents just don’t get it.

    As they say, “Old habits are hard to break.”

  13. Missy Caulk

    May 1, 2009 at 6:13 am

    No problem Jim, just wanted credit where credit is due!! REW does a great job. I just chose to stay with DAKNO, since they did my blog and support is amazing.

  14. teresa boardman

    May 1, 2009 at 8:17 am

    My business has changed a lot in the last few months. I got rid of all the services that were not giving me the ROI they should. I got rid of my template web site in favor of one that I built myself. That was getting rid of the old. For the new, I bought some hardware and software and expanded my hosting account. Oh and I moved to a much smaller local real estate company too. Change really is good when we make the changes our selves instead of letting the economy or someone make them for us.

  15. Missy Caulk

    May 1, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Teresa, I am so impressed with you doing your own web-site. Not surprised but just impressed.

  16. Amy Chorew

    May 2, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Missy,
    Thanks for the post – i get asked this question all the time in class, now I am just going to refer them to this article! and your site . . .

  17. KimWood

    May 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    I guess change is hard for everyone – it doesn’t surprise me that you took the leap ….. 🙂 Change brings growth – and I look forward to all that is to come from you !!!! Yay that you recognized it was time to move on, Missy!

  18. Paula Henry

    May 3, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Missy – Love your new site! Great content, clean design and in line with with your complete online presence. Congratulations!

  19. Susie Blackmon

    May 3, 2009 at 8:48 am

    I like your new site Missy! You’ve encouraged me to make the change from !@#$% Outlook to GMail as I keep inching toward it but don’t jump because I of time, etc., with learning, as you mentioned. Dakno built my new horse site which I haven’t posted in yet because I started 2 Breaking News Sites (so far) with Pat Kitano and Kevin Boer, but today I plan to finally get started on the horse site.

  20. Matt Stigliano

    May 3, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Drew – Is there a way to localize the widget so that they rates coming up are more in line with the area, so that the user doesn’t have to click through to Zillow first and then go through the process just to find out the local rates?

  21. Drew Meyers

    May 4, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Matt-
    Mortgage rates by state are available in our API for developers to utilize, but not available in our rate widget. Rates do vary a little bit by state, but the mortgage industry is not nearly as “local” as the real estate industry.

  22. Drew Meyers

    May 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Missy-
    You updated the default rate, but mortgage rates are constantly changing throughout the day. Here is something more along the lines of what I was thinking in the way of an integration 🙂

  23. Andrea

    May 5, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    I am becoming a financing “expert.” With rapidly changing financing regulations buyers are confused. I try to be there to un-confuse them so that I will not lose a sale that can be saved.

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Business Marketing

Snapchat’s study reveals our growing reliance on video

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Snapchat released a report that shows some useful insights for future video content creation.

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Snapchat's video

Snapchat is taking a break from restoring people’s streaks to publish a report on mobile video access; according to Social Media Today, the report holds potentially vital information about how customers use their mobile devices to view content.

And–surprise, surprise–it turns out we’re using our phones to consume a lot more media than we did six years ago.

The obvious takeaways from this study are listed all over the place, and not even necessarily courtesy of Snapchat. People are using their phones substantially more often than they have in the past five years, and with everyone staying home, it’s reasonable to expect more engagement and more overall screen time.

However, there are a couple of insights that stand out from Snapchat’s study.

Firstly, the “Stories” feature that you see just about everywhere now is considered one of the most popular–and, thus, most lucrative–forms of video content. 82 percent of Snapchat users in the study said that they watched at least one Snapchat Story every day, with the majority of stories being under ten minutes.

This is a stark contrast to the 52 percent of those polled who said they watched a TV show each day and the 49 percent who said they consumed some “premium” style of short-form video (e.g., YouTube). You’ll notice that this flies in the face of some schools of thought regarding content creation on larger platforms like YouTube or Instagram.

Equally as important is Snapchat’s “personal” factor, which is the intimate, one-on-one-ish atmosphere cultivated by Snapchat features. Per Snapchat’s report, this is the prime component in helping an engaging video achieve the other two pillars of success: making it relatable and worthy of sharing.

Those three pillars–being personal, relatable, and share-worthy–are the components of any successful “short-form” video, Snapchat says.

Snapchat also reported that of the users polled, the majority claimed Snapchat made them feel more connected to their fellow users than comparable social media sites (e.g., Instagram or Facebook). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next-closest social media platform vis-a-vis interpersonal connection was TikTok–something for which you can probably see the nexus to Snapchat.

We know phone use is increasing, and we know that distanced forms of social expression were popular even before a pandemic floored the world; however, this report demonstrates a paradigm shift in content creation that you’d have to be nuts not to check out for yourself.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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small businesses new tech

While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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skilled worker

The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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