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Putting your best face forward

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Shailesh raged against a situation where information was simply dismissed because it was obtained from a blog. I understand his frustration. Many ethical, smart and honest bloggers spend time and dispense expertise with integrity.

However, it is no secret that with the eleventy billion blogs out there, all the “information” being passed is not necessarily accurate. It is this underlying current of blog BS that lumps us all into to the generic characteristic of “opinion that may or may not be based on fact.” Smart blog readers will free think and question. May we all have readers like that.

During the course of the conversation, Bob relayed an interesting occurrence. It seems he directed a client to a lender’s webpage. When the client saw it was a blog site, the lender was subsequently dismissed. So goes some folks perception of the blogosphere.

Bob went on to explain that the guy was not opposed to web based business. Bob successfully earned this client’s business after being discovered on the web. But Bob’s blog is not his front page.

Interesting. Neither is mine. It is a blog platform, but it is set up with a static front page that mimics a traditional site to achieve ease of use when I update and to keep the feel the same when you do travel to the blog. I built it that way because I liked the way it looked. I had not considered the blog perception of a new onlooker. Looking through many industry bloggers, you can find it done both ways.

It begs the question…

How do you put your best face forward and is a blog the best way?

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Benjamin Bach

    January 22, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    VERY interesting April. I think you’ve inspired me to create a nice static frontpage for my blog (which is the only website I promote)

  2. Lani Anglin

    January 22, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Our local blog/website is run on WordPress with a front page that isn’t the tubular blog content but DOES have a running list of current articles on the front page. We have found great success with this format.

    Some people won’t get a tubular blog platform and think they’ve stumbled into the wrong place. Others get it and don’t care, just want to search the MLS or get your phone number to call you.

  3. Kelley Koehler

    January 22, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I love that question. But first, April: are you curly haired girl like on the blog, or straight haired girl like on your site?

    There are so many categories of audiences that we can consider. There’s your daily reader, your direct referral, your search engine hit, your paid adwords, etcetera. There’s a whole market built around optimizing landing pages for each type of audience. Obviously, you can’t control every interaction, but you really have to think about WHO is visiting and HOW, and combine that with WHAT they want to see, what you need to present, in order for them to take the ACTION you want them to take: subscribe, come back and read again, whatever it is.

    It’s going to be different for someone looking for first time buyer info. Allow me to generalize and say that person is younger. They may know what a blog is so maybe we can show them stuff in a traditional blog format. But someone looking for luxury information is probably a baby boomer and may not know a blog from tuesday.

    That exact question you ask is why everyone needs to think about their audience and how all those kinds of different people are going to interact and travel to and through the site. Having good landing pages should reduce bounce rates and increase not only visit length, but retention rates. If you’re already providing fabulous information, then the question becomes how to present it better, to the right people, at the right time.

  4. April

    January 22, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Ben – Glad your brain is churning 🙂 What about the topic made you think that maybe a static page is a good idea verses the way you have it now?

    Lani – I think you guys have come up with a great mix. It is that thinking they are in the wrong place aspect that I was thinking about when I decided to go the static front page route. The blogs are the meat, but I wanted it to have a traditional package.

    Kelley – Yes 🙂 Currently it is straight…but my hair is my favorite thing to mess with – color, cut style – so there is never any telling 🙂 Not great for my branding, but it keeps me sane (sort of)!

    I think your consideration of identifying your key market is an important one. You are right that you can’t control all situations. Maybe that is a vote for the traditional front site with an attached blog. Maybe it just means we should do business the way we are comfortable and move along.

    You really hit the nail on the head with the who, how, what and action.

  5. Larry Hotz

    January 23, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Bob is exception to rule among real estate bloggers. As a result he deserves the extra business generated by his extra efforts. It probably helps that he has an MBA is used to research and ethical writing.

  6. April

    January 24, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Larry – You are very right that Bob does great things. But, if his front page had being a blog, he would have probably been dismissed. The content of the lenders site was never even given the once over because of its “bloggy face.” I am curious if this is an isolated incident or if we really need to consider the chance that blog fronts are not as effective as their counterparts.

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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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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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