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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

Is Easy Advocacy the tool your business needs for ad campaign reach?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Product claims to make employee advocacy easier than ever with a tool that’s designed to enlist employees to share campaign content online.

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easy advocacy welcome page

Ever wished you could get all of your employees in on your campaigns, enlisting them all to help make your digital content go “viral”?

No? To be honest, me either – at least not until I learned about a new program called Easy Advocacy, created by a company called Agora Pulse.

Easy Advocacy is a productivity and marketing tool geared towards harnessing the power of larger internal groups (employees) in order to make content sharing (campaigns, social media posts, etc.) as easy as possible. The product is listed on Product Hunt, which is essentially a tech geek’s paradise for new and interesting technology. This week, on February 19th, Easy Advocacy was listed as the #1 product of the day.

The website boasts features like:

• Quick campaign setups
• Making content easier to share
• Knowing the reach of your shares

In addition to making it easier for employers to have their employees share content, the platform also offers basic analytics pertaining to things like number of shares and website visits. Employers can also identify their top advocates through a leaderboard.

Their website’s description of the toolset says that the tool “dispels the hassle of the usual employee advocacy complaints and makes the process of sharing content with employees, who then share on their social channels, easy peasy.”
One way it does this is by emailing your employees the exact instructions and copy the company would like them to share, making it somewhat automated.

Now, while this all seems great, my biggest concern is who their market truly is. Are they going after small teams? Probably not as having a team of only 5 people sharing a campaign would be nearly fruitless – unless you happen to have a major social media influencer under your employment.

If they go after larger companies, like Apple, for example, I can see this tool being helpful. However, it’s a little bit of a double-edged sword. Larger companies typically are beyond the point of needing word-of-mouth campaigns. Let’s use Apple as an example here, too. They’ve been around for years, and according to Statista, 45.3% of smart phone owners in the U.S. go with Apple iPhones. Given this, and the fact that everyone already knows what an iPhone is (unless you live under a rock…), I really can’t see much need for a tool like Easy Advocacy for such a large company.

So, where does that leave the company? Only time will tell. My first bit of advice to the company is that the name definitely needs work. The name “Easy Advocacy” implies that there’s some kind of advocacy happening for employees, when in reality, this platform is meant to help employers. But given my points above, I think they need to think about their model some more and maybe make this tool something that’s more robust that companies of all sizes can use.

Full disclosure, this does not mean it’s not worth trying out. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

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Business Marketing

The Body Shop’s new policy is first come, first employed

(BUSINESS MARKETING) An issue that has been on a lot of peoples minds recently is fair hiring standards, be from sex, race, or age discrimination to former prisoners.

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The body shop hires prisoners

Anyone who has tried to get a job in the last decade can tell you that hiring is getting near dystopian. Everyone has heard jokes about needing 5 years of experience for an entry level job or the combined skillset of 3 positions to get one job. Things have gotten to the point where even some large companies are wondering if maybe hiring (and getting hired) shouldn’t be so complicated?

The Body Shop is making a radical change in the way they hire their retail employees this summer. They will be hiring on a first-come first-serve basis. Employees must meet three criteria to apply, but beyond that it’s open season – or “open hiring” as they are calling it.

1. Must be authorized to work in the U.S.
2. Can lift over 50lbs
3. Can stand for 8 hours

The company will not be performing drug tests or background checks for this “open hiring” round. The goal is to remove some of the barriers to entry for people seeking employment. This move will be hugely beneficial to the formerly incarcerated and people who have minor offenses on their record.

The Body Shop’s U.S. GM, Andrea Blieden, said, “When you give people access to something that they’re struggling to find, they’re very committed to working hard and keeping it.”

This isn’t the first time The Body Shop has tested out this hiring strategy. In December 2019, the company ran a pilot program at their distribution center. According to them, their employee turnover rate dropped from 43% to 16% and productivity improved.

This change could be equally beneficial to both employers and employees. According to PrisonPolicy.org, formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of 27%. To put that in perspective, that is higher than the overall national average during the Great Depression.

When established brands make big moves, people pay attention. If they continue to report success, The Body Shop’s hiring practices could be used as a case study for other businesses looking to shake up their hiring process. Perhaps in a few years, this type of hiring could become more common place among retailers.

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Business Marketing

Stay ahead by decluttering your Instagram accounts with this new feature

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Get a head start on your spring cleaning with Instagram’s newest feature. It may become your favorite way to views others accounts.

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instagram accounts

In a plot twist you weren’t expecting this week, Instagram is looking to make your life a little easier. Their newest app update includes a feature that groups accounts you follow into curated lists such as most and least interacted with or earliest followed to latest.

If you’ve ever looked at the number of people you follow on Instagram and wondered, “who the heck are these people?” then this update will make your heart sing. Instagram has been around for 10 years now, so it’s understandable that some of our follower lists have gotten a little out of control. Your friends and interests shift over time and it can be difficult to find time to actively curate your social media accounts.

Working with this new feature is simple. To access it just head on over to your Instagram profile and click “Following.” You should see a couple of categories above the list of accounts you follow. As an added bonus, you can also change the sort feature on your follower list. It can be set to show oldest accounts followed first or latest accounts firsts.

instagram accounts

For entrepreneurs and freelancers who don’t have the luxury of a full social media team (or any team at all) small features like this can be a game changer. If this feature sparks you to finally clean up your Instagram, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide who to keep and who to unfollow.

Why did you originally follow this account?

Does this account still serve your business interests?

What was your main purpose behind following this account? As a business owner you might follow an account on Instagram for any number of strategic reasons. Perhaps this account is a fellow business owner in your area, but they’ve since closed their doors. Chances are you’ll find more than one of these cases in your least interacted with group.

Were you looking for business advice or inspiration? When you’re just starting out with your business, you might have followed a few accounts that aimed to give advice to new business owners. Well, if you’ve been doing this for a few years, you probably already know the basic advice these types of accounts are pushing. It’s time to move on.

Do you know this account IRL? Maybe your business has moved locations or changed niche in the last few years. You might have made some great connections with fellow business owners back in the day, but you may no longer run in the same circles. If you know the person who runs the account IRL and you still want to stay connected there are two options. You can either go follow them on your personal account or you can continue following, but mute the account so it doesn’t clog up your Instagram feed.

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