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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.

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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

A more environmentally sensitive Pantone color of the year

(MARKETING) Why is Pantone’s coral color causing a ruckus? Marketing is just marketing, right? Maybe not…

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pantone unofficial color of 2020

Every year Pantone declares the Color of the Year and for 2019, the institute declared Living Coral to be the “it” shade calling it “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” And it totally is. Imagine bright red orange swimming in a sea of crystal blue water.

Pantone’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman even goes so far as saying it that Living Coral was what “consumers craved” and that it incites “human interaction and social connection” which might be a stretch. It is just a color after all.

However, some found this messaging to be anything but convivial and well, off-color.

Jack Railton-Woodcock and Huei Yin Wong, partners at Jack and Huei, a Melbourne-based design agency, took umbrage with this decision and for good reason.

Their native Australia has front-row seats to the dying of the Great Barrier Reef and for them, coral is anything but lively. If anything, it’s on life support.

To call attention to the tone-deaf decision, the duo preemptively christened Bleached Coral as the Color of the Year 2020.

Touche.

The duo furthered their burn, saying, “It’s the responsibility of all of us, creative or otherwise, to find creative solutions to big problems, and right now there aren’t many problems facing humanity that are bigger than climate change.”

Oof, way to pull back the curtain, guys.

As much of a buzzkill as this pair might be, they’re not wrong, and they bring up the larger question of social responsibility in marketing.

But it’s just marketing, right?

Wrong. The very root of marketing is aspirational. We see ads for luxury cars, we imagine ourselves behind the wheel and believe that maybe we can get there. We see beauty products that promise flawless ageless skin and maybe we decide to take better care of our skin. We see Living Coral and we’re blinded to the reality that the coral just might be a thing of the past.

Yes, Pantone’s Color of the Year is one of those fun end-of-year things we in marketing get excited about, but when you’re living in a world where climate change is our reality and we see it in unnatural weather patterns and the dying off of one of our greatest natural treasures, it’s time to take pause. We can do better.

These days it’s hard to please everybody. Try as we might to make everything for everyone, if we’re going to attempt to talk about a unifying the human race through color, we sure as hell shouldn’t choose a color that reminds us all that our environment is in rough shape and it’s largely humanity’s fault. Bleached Coral isn’t the color we need, but right now, it’s the color we deserve.

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Business Marketing

Genius: How a Yoga studio is using AI to help the masses

(MARKETING) Here’s an interesting case study in how yoga, a 5,000+ year industry is using modern technology.

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yoga

Yoga is everywhere. From small town strip mall studios and big city meccas with guidance from YouTube gurus to Instagram-able practice with goats. If monitoring your breaths and balancing your body is your thing, it’s not out of reach.

However, despite its ubiquity, getting into yoga can be intimidating.

Sure, you’ve picked up a mat at Target, you’ve purchased all the Lululemon pants and Outdoor Voices bras, but actually getting on the mat and moving your body can be overwhelming if you’ve never practiced before.

Well, Would-Be-Yogis, push those fears and worries out of your mind, take three deep breaths and get on the mat, because you’re about to start posing at your pace.

Introducing the YogaBot from Austin’s own Yoga Yoga. It’s a fascinating case study in how a 5,000+ year old industry is using modern technology.

Over the past 20 years, Yoga Yoga has guided thousands of yoga students from their first class all the way through advanced teacher training and now, to help improve students choose the right path for themselves, they’ve created Design Your Yoga.

With the intention of helping new and advanced students achieve their yoga goals, Design Your Yoga is an automated experience that begins on their landing page.

Once you arrive, the bot asks you if you’d like to “Design Your Yoga.” After an initial greeting, the bot begins by getting to know your skill level.

Asking a very straightforward, “Have you done yoga before?” you are then offered nine responses ranging from “Never” to “I am a yoga therapist.”

Once you answer, you are asked further questions regarding what you’d like to achieve from your practice, what styles you’re familiar with, and when and where you’d like to practice among a few others. At the end, the bot will ask for your email address to send you a customized yoga plan. Easy peasy.

Their algorithm has thousands of possible combinations promising to make each yogi’s practice results unique to them.

“For years we’ve been working on ways to better personalize our services to the needs of each individual student. Design Your Yoga is our solution to delivering an exceptional user experience with a plan a student can follow and stick with,” said Yoga Yoga CEO Rich Goldstein.

Landing page bots are nothing new, and more often than not, they’re annoying as hell. However, this one actually seems helpful, which is refreshing.

From a marketing standpoint, Yoga Yoga CMO Marc Lefton said, “As marketers in a city as creative and entrepreneurial as Austin, we wanted to make sure we use every tool we can to bring yoga students the information they need as fast as possible.”

He’s not wrong. It worked. After trying it out for ourselves, we can’t help but be a little more ready to get on the mat. First, we’re going to need to put down the tacos.

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