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Real Estate Implosion, Lawyers, Realtors & Disintermediation – Oh My.

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0000036548_20061218145010.jpgThe cool thing about lawyers is that even though they compete with one another, they understand the basic reality that business is there for the taking. Rarely can you walk down a street in America and not find someone divorcing or guilty of a crime. The best thing about lawyers is that even though they get a lot of ribbing about being this and that (not generally polite) they’ve never been guilty of eating themselves alive publicly- meaning, you rarely see them out publicly bucking the system. They have an understanding that the systemis what affords them a lifestyle and a profession, regardless of how twisted the perception of it is.

Realtors on the other hand (we’re not lawyers) have very much the same dependencies and lately have very much the same reputation as lawyers. Insane as it may sound, we’ve recently been compared to car salesmen and we’re even accused of being the devil in some cases, and having spun millions into subprime disaster, single-handedly causing a real estate bubble with our cat like commission skills– hell, we even set the fires in California to spark future growth! I kid. It was just a kid and matches I hear, but hey, he’s probablya future Realtor if you ask those that wish to disintermediate us from the transaction.

The truth is, the only thing Realtors are guilty of is playing into the less than 1% of 1% of 1% that would call free agency a trend. Realtors are guilty of playing into mass hysteria created by a public relations campaign created by a certain discount business model. Realtors are guilty of the thing lawyers already understand- s*itting where you eat is probably not a good idea.

The perfect storm against our chosen profession is this- we’ve always thought the other guy’s services to consumers sucks, and we spend big money saying just that. The genius in the PR campaign waged by our fishy competition plays on that vulnerability and honestly, I see a lot of hysteria in the marketplace because of it. We had a guest commenter here last week that said we were complaining about the end of the profession, but the reality is- it’s simple self defense, another mechanism used as a vulnerability in the game to weaken the position of the membership (NAR). Although, as quiet as the membership is, and as clumsy as it still remains, the collective membership matters not to the profession. The hysteria created by those seeking rankings and comments on a blog, or to score points with the pissed off of the real estate consumer is a gift to them and no one else.

I think maybe folks might want to take a look at how and where lawyers compete- it’s in the courtroom, not in the court of public opinion. They get up ever day, notwrite a blog, and they pass up the hype by those who would say lawyers are vultures and march into the courtroom and lay it down in no uncertain terms why they’re valuable. Their personal reputations are what drives the most successful, the ones you never see at midnight offering to bail you out on a DUI.

Yes, I think Realtors could learn from the blood-sucking lawyers out there on how to handle negative press and attacks on their profession. We could learn a thing or two about how to be gentlemen and where to duel , and just so you know- that’s not in the court of public opinion… just because one Realtor, market or PR campaign is bad doesn’t mean the entire industry is. Comparatively, because one lawyer is an ambulance chaser doesn’t mean the entire BAR is chasing them too- and the only lawyer that would ever be guilty of saying it to be so would be the guy on TV at midnight offering you midnight DUI representation.

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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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Vicki Moore

    November 7, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    I don’t see lawyers getting on the internet and giving all of their knowledge, information and strategies away. I don’t see them grovelling, begging or arguing their worth. I don’t see them undercutting their pay to stay in business.

    Really interesting post. I have to think about it some more.

    BTW Boston Legal is my favorite show.

  2. Benn Rosales

    November 7, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    by your comment, you got my point.

    We never miss Boston Legal- Tuesday is a great day, always.

  3. Mariana

    November 8, 2007 at 2:43 am

    If we truly believe we ARE worth our salt, we WILL be worth our salt. The ones who aren’t are the ones that are the weak links in this profession. And it shows.

  4. Joshua Ferris

    November 14, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    The barrier to becoming a lawyer is also quite a bit higher than it is for real estate. Real estate has yet to shed its “grandma” image of being something for older people to do to occupy their time and stand alone as a legitimate industry. Good agents are worth their pay and then some but the people who are in the business to occupy themselves because they are bored or to do part time for extra cash are the ones dragging down the industry. I’ve never seen anyone go to law school for 7 years just to make a little extra cash part-time.

  5. Mitch Argon, Reno Real Estate

    March 10, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Very good post. I’ll take it a bit further. Because the real estate profession has done so many silly things for so long (sending out recipe cards, walking future seller’s dogs, and a myriad of other things to win “social favors”), we have conditioned the consumer to think that these are the essential services of a real estate agent.

    Low barrier to entry. Perception of easy money. NAR promoting more realtors (i.e. more dues $$$ to spend on supporting the brand) versus earnestly putting in programs to raise the bar (i.e. less dues means it will never happen) and this is what you get.

    At some point (long from now), this business may be about service and not salesmanship (and a lot of the nonsense that goes with it).

  6. Jacqui Richey, Las Vegas Real Estate

    May 9, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Perception is reality and the sooner agents remember that, the better. We need to change perception in order to change reality. DENNY CRANE! I think the NAR could do more by enforcing its own rules and removing members that don’t follow them.

  7. Fort Lauderdale Mortgage

    July 24, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I agree with mitch and great post by the way. I worked as a real estate agent many years ago and adding a bit of extra service never hurt.

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Business Marketing

How ecommerce brands can increase sales, even on tiny purchases

(MARKETING) These tips and tricks are prime ways to boost the dollar amount spent at checkout and close more deals — even on the tiny purchases!

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online sales

There are many marketing techniques aimed at acquiring new customers. Makes sense, right? More customers, more money. But how do you increase sales with your existing customer base? The Average Order Value (AOV) = Total Revenue/# of Transactions. This number is important because it indicates how much each customer is buying. Here are some ways to increase your AOV:

First, it’s crucial to appeal to human nature. People like things for free. So, by setting a minimum to receive free delivery, buyers are more likely to continue browsing and eventually buying, in order to avoid the shipping fee. While we all know that spending $50 when I only meant to spend $37 isn’t ideal, but I’d rather pay $50 for two products, than $43 for one and shipping. It feels like a better value.

Over half of customers will discontinue their transaction when they found out there are additional costs. MORE THAN HALF. Don’t surprise people the wrong way — we don’t like it.

Second, have you ever been to Costco? Ever left Costco with exactly the amount of food you needed? No, of course, you haven’t. The concept of buying in bulk appeals to our sense of value. Oranges are $1.09 per pound but buy a 10 lb. bag and get it for $8.50. Next thing you know, you’re feeding your child’s soccer team as well as the opponents. Offering a discount on package deals and large quantities at least gets your customers thinking about purchasing more.

We all rationalize the need for a good deal. My roommate used to buy two 12-packs of the giant muffins because “They were on sale.” A discount on a package might entice someone who was looking for a little more variety but was hesitant at first.

Next, recommending products is a great way for customers to lay eyes on new things. Not everyone is a browser — some people go straight to a specific section. By using information from previous purchases and browsing history, showing related, best-selling, or recommended products is an awesome way to generate more clicks and potentially increase sales.

Finally, help us lazy people by including a gift-wrapping option at checkout so that people buying remotely for others out of town can send things directly. In order to wrap, they would have to send to themselves, wrap, then send again or deliver to the receiver. The former sounds like it’s worth $6.99 to me!

In conclusion, there are always ways to boost sales with your existing, loyal, customers. If buyers are only purchasing one thing at a time, reflect on why this is. Perhaps a few sweeteners or additional opportunities could lead to long-term growth. Remember human nature and happy selling!

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Business Marketing

Branded content coming to a theater near you?

(MARKETING) A solid attempt to find a new vein for branded content, this silver screen antic seems short lived.

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branded content movies

When firing up your laptop to watch branded content have you ever thought, “Man, I wish I could watch this short video on the big screen. I’d pay good money to see this in the theater!”?

Probably not, which is why Marriott’s narrowly distributed lifestyle series Storybooked should be a cautionary tale to other content creators. (It won’t be, but we tried.)

Marriott disrupted the branded content model by screening the entirety of Storybooked in theaters. Yep, you could’ve dropped around $20 to watch an extended branding experience in theaters and if you missed it, it airs on A&E. It also lives on their branded lifestyle blog Marriott Traveler and of course, YouTube.

Created by Marriott Content Studios, Storybooked is a series of short films aiming to “share with consumers around the world the benefits of loyalty to Marriott through the experiences and stories of real members.”

The members featured are international artists and musicians on personal journeys. Each episode is almost formulaic in nature – the artist offers a profound statement about their work or journey, then comes footage of a train, followed by footage of the artist touching buildings, sitting in doorways and enjoying local culture. Sometimes they return to the Marriott, sometimes they don’t.

I watched many of these (from the comfort of my couch) and I’m in no hurry to book Marriott any time soon. I get it, companies are trying to attract a younger and hipper demographic and they think branded content is the way to earn loyalty, but these are lukewarm advertorials at best. They lack the sincerity of originality and authenticity that appeals to a younger demographic. I didn’t even feel compelled to look up these artists’ work to explore more. I didn’t feel compelled to do anything.

If anyone, they might appeal to already loyal Marriott fans, but I’m having a hard time imagining even the most rabid fan forking over the price of theater admission to watch these.

There are brands have been able to successfully dip their toes into more narrative-based ads. Both Kate Spade and H&M have previously created episodic series and short films to promote their lines and they’ve worked largely because even though they’re ads, their creativity and whimsy prevail. I wouldn’t rush to see them in the theaters, but I’d happily surrender a few minutes of screen time to watch.

Will this trend continue? Will other brands seek the same kind of distribution model for branded content? Think of it this way, when’s the last time you found yourself in a crowded movie theater?

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Business Marketing

Ten podcasts that every business owner should hear

(MARKETING) If you’re a business and want to learn something, give one of (or all of) these ten podcasts a listen.

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headphones listen podcasts

So many choices, so little time

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

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From interviews with business leaders to industry specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

Business podcasts for your listening enojoyment

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly populat show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further thna Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real world applications and cover everything from marketing to techology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

#LearnSomething

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