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Quit Yer Yarping & Talk Solutions Already – Raise My Bar by Raising Yours

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455244.jpgGreg Swann had a really great point in this week’s Odysseus post regarding being able to answer questions in relation to your value. Hardcore criticism in a blog can do that- “practice you” per se, but does it really? Sure, if the goal post isn’t a transient target. So I wanted to write this to take Greg’s point one step further and I hope, beyond.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading post after post regarding many issues around the blog-o-whatever, and honestly, there isn’t much original thought out there. Most of them are attacks on folks (indirectly of course) that set a comment section on fire. It is a lot of fun to do, and yeah, we’re all guilty of it in some fashion, but not nearly on the level some are doing this.

Writing a post attacking something that people are passionate about is very likely going to get you attention- no names are mentioned, the statements are broad and generalized, and explode much like a verbal pipe bomb. They cut people in so many directions that defending yourself is futile. You’re going to be hit if you’re in the line of fire. How is this a sincere challenge? It isn’t. It no more teaches or instructs, than a swift kick to the face. What is wrong with this method of writing is that there is nothing constructive to gain from it, especially for consumers.

I, for one, am getting really bored of the nameless attacks. I see no real value in educating the ignorant unless the ignorant are willing to hear and understand, and engage realistic solutions. That is what is missing in the blog world and why technology blogs garner so many comments to posts related to How Tos; they’re constructive. They answer a need, a question, and the opportunity to grow in your own interest. I see the overwhelming success of Zillow’s Forums & Wiki and can gather that information is in high demand. Does your blog post answer the demand? Some do. Others do not.

Are you inventing new and innovative technologies for consumers? Are you redesigning a business model from the ground up and offering it up as a solution? Are you spending your day gathering facts that would help another in your profession grow their own business? Are you offering an idea for a product that enhances an industry? Are you evaluating the above for your reader? If your answer is no, then you may want to evaluate whether blogging is for you because flaming the choir is a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

My last thought is this- many flamers hide behind the veil ofblogging for the consumer.” But the consumer doesn’t want chaos, confusion, a verbal fist fight, or anything like that (they have television for that). They want ideas and solutions- they want to be inspired. The Realtors that read you want very much the same. I want to read far out ideas with crazy today solutions- I know I am not alone in my feelings as I’ve had many conversations with peers on this subject.

So, if you’re looking for ideas to write about, here are a few:

  • How do we organize and speak to NAR and be heard in a constructive way?
  • How do you envision your real estate practice in year 2010?
  • Comparing business models and what positives they all have
  • Your idea of your value to the consumer
  • What are the dangers of RE Forums to consumers (ie. fair housing, facts versus opinions)

How to blog and engage rather than incite:

  • Narrow your scope in what you target
  • Use facts to base your point, not rhetoric
  • Accept arguments and use them to build solution
  • Find the middle
  • Offer suggestions in regards to a reader’s personal growth
  • Never make a comparison that is not based in fact
  • Never insult those you claim to be teaching
  • Offer a realistic solution in place of destructive observations
  • Never speak from both ends

Inspirational things consumers are drawn too:

  • Redfin
  • HGTV
  • TLC
  • The Discovery Channel
  • Social Networks & People Talk
  • Technology
  • Innovative ideas

There will be a few readers who may be offended by what I’ve said here and that is unfortunate. My intention is to simply raise the bar, even in my own writing. Anyone can criticize anything, that’s easy, the question really is- do you have what it takes to put up solutions even if they may be torn apart? That’s the post readers will engage every single time and just as hot as a flame job.

What inspires you?

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Drew Meyers

    August 20, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    I totally 100% agree with your point that people want to be inspired — sadly, some people (IMO) don’t ever find true inspiration.

    What inspires me? Helping others educate themselves and improve their business/life in the process. Along the same lines — micro finance, which you’ll see me blogging more about in the future on my own blog.

  2. B. R.

    August 20, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    That’s awesome, you may lose me at micro finance, but I swear I’m a fan of everything else you ever write!

    Thanks for coming by!

  3. Drew Meyers

    August 20, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Microfinance is just empowering entrepreneurs around the world to bring themselves out of poverty through entrepreneurship. Sustainable change — rather than just granting money which will not change anything in the long term.

    Check out Kiva.org. I think you’ll love the concept.

  4. B. R.

    August 21, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Drew, yes, I’ve seen this and I think it’s awesome. It is a really cool alternitive to charity, very interactive, I love it.

    There was something going here in the states much the same, only the loans were larger and there was a profit opportunity. I wasn’t that impressed, but the concept was really neat.

    Way to promote a solution…

  5. Jay Thompson

    August 21, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    This is the best post I’ve seen in a long time.

    What inspires me? I like to learn, and help others learn. Granted, some (maybe much) of what I post doesn’t do that. But I also on occasion just lay myself out there. I want my readers (particularly prospective client readers) to get to know me. Sometimes that entails writing something completely off-topic or frivolous….

  6. April Groves

    August 22, 2007 at 3:50 am

    Big Dittos and thanks for the mention.

    I am not an internet firestarter and it is not on my to do list. I much prefer your approach of engaging, helping, and raising.

    I am inspired by “Yes I can and you can too!” people. Those who go big. Those who do it scared. Those who do it just because it’s right. Those who do it for somebody else.

    I am inspired by my husband and my kids. They embody the fullness of life – that is inspiring!

  7. Lisa Dunn

    August 23, 2007 at 7:16 am

    I think I have a problem. I’m an inspriration junkie. There are *lots* of things I feel passionate about, and when I’m passionate I’m inspired to act. Makes for a busy day!

    I’m inspired by Realtor’s stories about how they try to right the wrongs that are done to our customers. We do this by educating through our blogs, right?

    I’m inspried by my 84 year old clients who look at every day as a new possibility, have a sense of personal responsibility, have a sense of earning what you receive, use their manners, and take the time to share their wisdom with me.

  8. B. R.

    August 23, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    Lisa, you’re so right. You seem to have great perspective in your business and why you’re so successful. There is sometimss a shortage of real human interest stories around the re.net. To me, that is where a Realtors real value is displayed is when they demonstrate just how far they go for their clients. Getting hung up on the politics of real estate just erodes our overall value to the consumer.

  9. Michael Price

    August 27, 2007 at 1:00 am

    I am inspired by humility and patience in blogging. It’s not hard to tell if a post or comment has been thoughtfully crafted. It’s even easier to tell if a post was written in haste without checking the facts. Knee jerk reactions are everywhere. Too many people seem to be willing to vilify people and companies without the courtesy of placing themselves in that person’s position for even a millisecond.

    Forming an opinion is easy. Framing an opinion only takes a little more effort.

    I am inspired by passionate thinkers, even those I do not agree with, as long as their passion is genuine. A little grace and humility can go a long way. As you stated we are all “guilty of it in some fashion” and I will certainly admit to my share. It’s the repeat offenders I have to take issue with. Forming an opinion without a complete frame of reference and then launching an attack gets old after a while. When the offender doesn’t take the time to interject a little humility and grace, credibility weakens.

  10. B. R.

    August 27, 2007 at 11:46 am

    Well said Michael, I totally agree.

  11. Erik Hersman

    August 27, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Excellent post!

    Consistently adding value to the conversation through blogging is a long-term strategy that is more difficult to master than just opening a flame war. The payoffs are in being book marked and returned to for a long time to come.

  12. Rebecca Levinson

    August 27, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    This was a refreshing post, as I was getting a bit discouraged over the past week, reading over some of the banter between bloggers bent on getting readership through dagger directed insults disguised as bravado and insight. I prefer the bloggers who look to gain readership through insightful inquiry and educated observation.

  13. Rory Siems

    September 14, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Downside: I have kept my blog mostly vanilla in nature. My ratio for controversy must hover around 1:150. The penalty/result for that is

    No comments or reactions are made.
    Straight facts can sometimes play as boring and lacking value.

    Look at some of the most successful blogs that are outside the real estate space, how many of those straddle “the middle”? None.

    I agree with Jay, part of the purpose of my blog is to let potential clients know who I am. I think that if I continue to keep it too conservative that it may come off as robotic which defeats the purpose even moreso.

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Business Marketing

A personalized daily digital marketing checklist

(MARKETING NEWS) For all businesses, it is not only essential to develop an digital marketing strategy, but also necessary to utilize it in order to gain customers, and ultimately make a larger profit. This app can help.

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clearpath digital marketing

There is no doubt that starting your own business can be overwhelming. Along with promoting your business at events, meetings and in person, digital marketing strategies play a key role in the success of a company. For all businesses, it is not only essential to develop an online presence, but also necessary to utilize it in order to gain customers, and ultimately make a larger profit.

Simply creating a website and Facebook page for your business is not enough. However, software tools can help simplify digital marketing. ClearPath is a tool that organizes and creates tasks to optimize your online marketing. By creating to-do lists for you based on your online marketing strategy, you can focus on the areas of marketing that improve your business, all the while receiving useful tips and advice.

Using ClearPath is pretty straightforward and only requires one prerequisite. Before beginning, you must have a website.

If you are already lost, don’t panic. ClearPath can help you develop an online presence. Once your website is linked up, you get to choose the marketing channels that you would like to focus on. These include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), email, social, content, analytics, local, pay-per-click (PPC) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Again, if you are lost, ClearPath is there to help you strategize.

After ClearPath analyzes your site, they start sending you customized tasks based they believe can improve your online marketing.

As you finish each task, you can simply check it off and it will disappear. New tasks will appear each day, and some may even repeat as they need to be updated.

Whether you are well-versed in digital marketing or not, staying updated with the newest ways to optimize your business online is a constant struggle. Tools like ClearPath give people a place to start. Although I don’t think it can supplement an active and experienced digital marketer, it is a tool that can help small businesses that cannot afford to add to their team yet. At the end of the day, it aims to save you time. And since time is money, your business will hopefully be more profitable.

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Business Marketing

Simple logo creation tools perfect for any freelancer

(MARKETING) You already know that even if you’re a solo writer, or lone developer, you need a brand in today’s online world. If you’re on a budget, check out these logo creation tools!

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logo creation

Freelancing is a major part of the landscape nowadays. In that capacity, you’re running your own one-person business. As such, you need to brand that business. You know that, but let’s discuss the actionables.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “branding”, I immediately envision logos (which is super convenient because it brings me to my next point). You should absolutely have a logo as a freelancer, even if it’s simply just your name in a rad – but professional – font.

This will be useful on your website, social media, on invoices and beyond. You can even pop that bad boy into your email signature!

Ideally, you should hire a graphic designer that knows what they’re doing – you’ll get the best results. But if your budget is zero dollars, don’t you dare ask a professional for free work.

Instead, if you want to develop a logo for your personal freelancing brand on the cheap, check out five of our favorites below and see what works for you. The best part? These all have some free components.

  1. Picfont: Let me start with personal experience. My freelance logo (which is the cover photo of my Twitter), is literally just my name in a script-like font, and was made using Picfont. You can upload a blank background (or pick from fun royalty-free backgrounds) and choose from a variety of font options. Pick what you like, shape it out, download, and use. Easy
  2. Looka (formerly Logojoy) is also a great, easy-to-use online logo maker. You simply type in your company name/your name and go through a process of selecting colors and styles that you like. Looka then generates a selection of logos based on your choices. For an example, I created the logo for The Tidbit using Looka.
  3. Online Logo Maker: a wonderfully self-explanatory name. This logo maker is almost like a combination of Picfont and Logojoy. You can play around with different fonts, colors, and symbols to make a logo that fits you. This option also features high-quality Vector files.
  4. Canva is a great option because you can design a multitude of material (including flyers, presentations, graphs, etc.) If you’re planning to build a full-on portfolio with supplemental materials in addition to a logo, Canva may be your best bet as you can design everything to have a similar look – which is incredibly important for branding.
  5. DesignEvo: Their website describes it best, “DesignEvo is a free online logo maker with 8,000+ templates that anyone can use to bring to life a compelling, unique logo in minutes.” They have a drag and drop interface and hundreds of fonts.

Take some time to test drive these sites, play around with different logo types, and see which one gels best with you and your freelancing-self. Happy branding!

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Business Marketing

How to use offline marketing to your advantage in a digital world

(BUSINESS) We often become obsessed with new marketing strategies, favoring the internet over some traditional methods that continue to drive traffic timelessly.

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offline marketing open sign for small business

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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