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I was meeting with a Realtor today to discuss blogging.  We were discussing low-cost marketing ideas to gain new customers and got onto the topic of public speaking engagements.

Now, I’m not necessarily talking big conferences, but more intimate discussions.  He has conducted several first time buyer classes with an average size of the class being less than 10, but he gets at least one transaction out of it.  He holds it in his company conference room and provides minimal refreshments.  The costs are less than $15 and the return is easily in the thousands.

This seems like a no-brainer to me.  In my day job, I teach several classes a week and have seen several customers use our company due to the education I have provided.  But I don’t see too many real estate classes in my area for consumers.  Maybe I’m isolated, but maybe not.  And the classes I do see are almost always first time buyer classes.  Why not get your preferred lender in to discuss loan types and terms?  Or an appraiser to come in to discuss improvements that will improve the value?  Or a home stager to give some quick tips?  You get the idea.

Again, marketing costs would be extremely low since many of these people you may bring in would probably do it for free in order to get the exposure.  The Realtor I met with today also uses a no-pressure sales technique – he leaves cards by the door and lets people know that if they want more information, they have to give him their contact information. Yet he still gets business without being pushy.

I do understand that some people can sell incredibly well one-on-one or very small groups, but when you get in front of a group and behind a podium, it all falls apart.  I am very fortunate, when I was in college I became a SCUBA instructor.  My instructor one night told me I had to conduct the dive physics lecture.  ACK!  I barely remembered the concepts, but I prepped, went in, got grilled by the students and came out okay.  I moved on to a level where I was actually teaching others to teach and now I have no problem getting up in front of large groups discussing a variety of topics.

If that’s not you, I strongly recommend doing something about it.  If you can talk to thousands of people via your blog, shouldn’t you be able to talk to a room of a hundred?  I agree that real estate is all about face to face connections and education is a great tool to connect with people and prove your expertise.

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. Mariana Wagner

    March 17, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I love talking to people. I am currently working on being internationally certified to train for Keller Williams and will be on a panel for the 2008 Colorado REALTOR Rally on 3/19. I love sitting on panels and being up front, training agents. The larger the group, the better, IMHO.

  2. florida remax realty

    March 18, 2008 at 5:16 am

    I love this idea and it can help so many with questions. Should I sell now, what to do to prepare for a sale. For the buyer the lending process, finding a realtor, today’s market. All of these would be so helpful I wish they had it when I first bought me realtor lead me thru the process but being informed is the best way and why not classes. I think the lending and how to make your house stand out for sale in buyers market will be the best attended sessions.

  3. Gatlinburg Real Estate

    March 18, 2008 at 6:19 am

    Talking to a group is probably the #1 fear for most people. I have gotten much better and much more comfortable at doing it with small groups. 5 years ago I would have puked right where I stand at the thought of having to do any public speaking. It has gotten better with age and definately helps when you are confident in what you are talking about. Good tips on providing different speakers to discuss the many facets of real estate Nick.

  4. Toby & Sadie

    March 18, 2008 at 9:27 am

    The “buyer’s seminars” have run their course in Delaware. Lots of agents just used them as an “about me” time and didnt’ get a good response.

    I’m working on a “seller’s seminar” for next month that is looking pretty interesting. We have a home stager, a mortgage guy to talk about stream-lined 203b loans, a new home builder, title company, and myself. It should be interesting.

  5. Bill Lublin

    March 18, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Nick; You might want to check out the Library at – There is some terrific material you can use that is not a “look at me” type of program, but a good checklist to use for any sort of consumer seminar. Our agents are doing buyer and seller seminars on a regular basis, and while the number of attendees vary, people are still interested in good information about buying and selling , and seem to react well to the knowledgable professional who presents that material to them in an objective manner

  6. Nick

    March 18, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    @mizzle – I am actually honestly amazed at the Realtors I see at the conventions I attend, it definitely takes some guts to get up in front of huge groups of attendees and frequently say things that push many outside their comfort boundaries. Do you do classes for consumers as well?

    Gatlinburg – That’s great that you’ve forced yourself to keep going instead of simply giving up. One of the parts of my life that helped the most was when I assisted in teaching people to actually teach SCUBA. We had to score our students on effectiveness, use of crutch words and general presentation skills. When you start teaching others, you see your own mistakes even more clearly and have to clean up your act.

    Toby & Sadie – if you don’t mind my asking, are you having to pay any of the outside pro’s a dime to be there?

    Bill – I’ve never been too good at navigating, a little help? Or do I have to be a NAR member to access the information you’re speaking of? I’m thinking of a Home Depot-like model where they have classes a few times a week on a variety of topics. Maybe I don’t care about tile, but I want to replace my sink. In Real Estate, that could be classes on how to Feng Shui your house, green living or basic landscaping. Same type of idea, if the Realtor isn’t the pro on these things, get a pro to come in to teach, but it still gives face time for the Realtor and the office.

  7. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    March 18, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Nick, this is a great concept we’ve begun pioneering here in Austin and you know what? It sure is a lot like a blog but in person! If you have a great partnership with someone like you in Title (preferrably the marketing department), a progressive new-fashioned Realtor, and a mortgage guy or gal, the process becomes much more fluid.

    Keep the great ideas coming! 🙂

  8. Matthew Rathbun

    March 18, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Great ideas, Nick. I will say, there are some very well written bloggers who aren’t that comfortable in front of people. I think a good place for these folks to start is in small, short sessions talking about what they are comfortable with.

    With the information that is all over the internet, agents could get a good response, if they began doing a better job of getting in front of the consumer. Most buyers use the first agent they encounter…

    Partnerships that provide a variety of information is a great place to start!

  9. Bill Lublin

    March 18, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Nick – is the resource for members of NAR, but you can get some of those design and architecture ideas from REALTOR Magazines web site – the direct link would be and should not require a login (I tried it from my home computer, and unless I had a cookie I’m unaware of from an earlier login I think you;re good to go) And I have to agree with your analysis of how different related experts can work for would work for a REALTOR peoviding an educational opportunity for home buyers or sellers – Good ideas – In fact they might even have a tech person their to talk about smart homes and wireless networks 🙂
    Nick: I forgot to mention what a great link the toastmasters is for people without speaking experience- having taught and lectured and presneted in a variety of venues over the years, I tend to forget that people might need some practice the first time – and that seems like a great place to get that help – well done sir!

  10. Australian Toastmasters Champion

    March 21, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Speaking is one of the best ways to market yourself. the main reason why it is so good is that most people are afraid of public speaking. Therefore when they see someone speaking, the audience automatically believes that they are an expert! Therefore they must know what they are on about!


    Darren Fleming
    Australia’s Public Speaking Coach

  11. Martin Ng

    February 11, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Excellent business idea, and a great way to become familiar with public speaking, doing it for such small groups. In classrooms you don’t need a mic and can’t hear your own echo – much less intimidating.

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.



Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?



Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.



Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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