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Running on the Marketing Hamster Wheel

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Yesterday I spent an hour-plus talking to two agents in my office about what they could do to try and attract business. Our broker (rightly) persists that listings are the key – you need the listings to generate buyers. Having had a couple of dozen listings this year and listened to my phone not ringing off the hook with ready, willing and able buyers, I’m not as convinced.

The old notion of cornering the market, except in the most hyper-local of circumstances, is fading away. There are exceptions … Russell Shaw remains the Valley’s two-ton gorilla, augmented by a consistent television ad campaign few of us can afford to watch much less initiate. But the Internet as a whole, and IDX in particular, allows enterprising agents to capitalize on anyone’s listings in an effort to attract buyers.

IDX isn’t sufficient, of course. These two agents have a really pretty website designed by Superlative. Superlative sites are terrible from an SEO standpoint and so their website sits virtually untouched. (That they’ve added no content of their own doesn’t help.)

Merely being on the web isn’t enough if no one knows you’re on the web. Yet many agents don’t take the extra step of making sure their presence is known. Further, they spend a lot of time, energy and most of all money on quaint marketing ideas that have virtually no real sticking power.

(Quick intermission … I’m meandering. I know it. I also drank a bottle of Merlot last night and am enjoying the morning-after-glass-of-water redux.)

Much is made of the need for a Web 2.0-type site versus a basic real estate sales site but that’s not necessarily true. My site for Westbrook Village, an active adult community in Peoria, Arizona, has been a gold mine the last few months. And why? Because it has the area’s only IDX listings feed for the Village with no registration required.

Very basic, very effective.

This isn’t to say life on the web is perfect. I’m only now recovering from a year-long beat down from Yahoo! for daring to have reciprocal links on my site. Three months ago I took off the links and Yahoo! loves me again (page one for Phoenix Arizona Real Estate.) You have to be able to adapt.

Much of that adaptation, in my humble opinion, comes online. It’s simply the most cost-efficient form of marketing available to those willing to invest the time. And time is almost more important than technical knowledge.

Tech expertise isn’t necessary. Blogging isn’t necessary.

Desire to succeed is, as is a rudimentary understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

It’s far better to spend little and fail online than spend thousands failing on magnets and fliers and open houses and newspaper ads and magazine ads …

(Okay, the merlot is wearing off.)

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    November 14, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    Bravo… Did I say bravo? Because I really meant BRAVO!

  2. Nicole Mills

    November 14, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Great post, Jonathan!

    I’ve only been in my market area for the past 2.5 years. When I moved here, I quickly realized that I was going to have to alter my way of finding business, and that meant having a website. On the advise of an agent I worked with, I went with a Superlative site. Tried my best to take out all the canned information, and worked diligently on my SEO. Tons of reading, experimenting and threw in a little prayer for good measure. After a year my homepage ranked 2 out of 10 with Google..how exciting, right?

    Well, I’ve recently switched to a Point2 site, and am much, much happier. You can actually do enough things in the back end to make a difference in your SEO efforts (although my site is still only 1/10 with Google, but I’m still working on that). I can’t afford yet to have a custom site built for myself (and maintained), so for now, Point2 will do…but what’s most important is that it’s given me a web presence, and that’s where I get probably 85% of my business.

    Unlike most agents in my market agea, I’m not a listing hound. For the past 2.5 years, I’ve marketed myself as predominately a Buyer’s agent, and so far, it’s working for me. I do take listings (when they fall in to my lap), but I don’t take them just to have them as a means of finding buyers. If I’m offered a listing and I feel the Seller is truly in a position to sell (price, condition, etc. are all in line), then I’ll take it. If not, I won’t. For me, it’s just not worth it. I don’t like having to badger sellers for price reductions. I don’t like having to run newspaper ads (while I’m spending $$$ per month on my web efforts) to appease a Seller’s idea of what effective marketing is. I don’t like having to take change of season pics of my listings, as my Sellers stare out from their kitchen, shaking their heads. And I especially don’t like feeling like a fool..which is how I feel when I take an over-priced that I spent valuable time and effort trying to get. Instead, I give great service to the clients I do have, which is mainly buyers..and when they’re ready to be sellers..well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!

    Geez, look at me ramble…you’d think I drank a bottle of Merlot recently, too! 😉

    Ok, to sum up…(if I can remember the point I thought I was going to make!) I appreciate that I’ve come across a post that validates what I’m doing, and how I’m doing it. I know I may not be considered successful by many of my fellow Realtors, but what I’m doing works for me, and that’s what is important. I’m diligently plugging away at increasing my web presence…as much as my budget, knowledge base, and time will allow, so I suspect that with every passing year, business will be growing and growing (Dear Lord, hear my prayer!). 🙂

  3. Ryan Hukill

    November 14, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Hello Jonathon. Great post and dead on. I believe success in our business comes from a broad range of efforts, not just one. Our internet presence is a must as the business changes and time invested in that is well worth it, especially for future success, but that doesn’t mean we can give up on what has worked in the past either. It’s a mixed bag of tricks we must employ.

    SEO is important, but so many of us get caught up in that obsession and forget that good consumer-desired content and offering user-friendly benefits will draw the people in and keep them there.

    The cost-effectiveness of internet marketing is what I love and I enjoy working with clients that are also tech-savvy, so that’s an added benefit.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    November 14, 2007 at 11:33 pm

    Nicole – Point-2-Agent seems to work much better. I can’t stand Superlative sites. Just me.

    Ryan – excellent points. Content’s king. Always has been. Always will be.

  5. James Davis

    March 30, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Good Evening Jonathan,

    Nice post!

    Thanks for some concrete ideas that actually work in the market place!

    Cheers,
    James
    PS. Just curious! How can I post my pic with my comments? Do I need to sign up with AG? Thanks for your input!

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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nostalgia

Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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