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Save the Badges for the Webelos

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On My Honor, I’ll Do My Best …

Somewhere in my house I have one or two pins left from my days with the Webelos and a couple of badges left over from my days with the Boy Scouts. If I’m not mistaken, the main badge floating around my office is from when I reached “Second Class.” And now thanks to the good folks at Active Rain, I officially can be “second class” again because I ain’t got no steenkin’ baches.

Now there’s an obvious difference at play here. When I was in Webelos and Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, I had to earn badges. One day I had to deliver roses to my sick neighbor to turn my Bobcat pin upside down. Another day I had to help an elderly person across the street whether they liked it or not. (And Jay T. still hasn’t forgiven me for dragging him across that road.)

Aside from the incredibly impressive 300,000-point badge, though, you don’t really have the earn any of these baubles on Active Rain. You just have to pony up the dough for one product or another. Assuming you are one of the people who haven’t quite figured out you ought not have to pay a monthly fee to blog.

(Note: for those handful of you who poke your head in out of the rain and realize there’s a larger world out there, please tell the others that it’s safe to venture outside the compound walls. Really. They’ll be okay. Just make sure to avoid snarling vendordogs.)

Badges as Negotiable Tender

As Bob Stewart called me a cynical bastard last summer (thank you, by the way), he did say that he gets it … that I’m one of the small percentage of people who don’t need Active Rain because I can do my own thing. In that vain, I admit that I also get it. Active Rain, with its point culture and the “great post” mantra, can be of tremendous benefit to beginning bloggers as they try to learn what they’re doing. Badges and gizmos and brownie points all help encourage the newbies to do what’s hardest … to keep writing.

In time, though, most of us discover there are more rewarding ways of being encouraged. Like, just maybe, receiving a commission check based on something you wrote or through other blog-related ideas you might happen to have. And those checks at the end of the day mean much more than some spiffy badge since my mortgage company doesn’t accept badges as payment.

You don’t need to have a Rainmaker badge to really be a rainmaker. Because being a real estate rainmaker has nothing do with how many products you purchase on Active Rain and everything to do with the amount of leads you generate for your own business. It’s not about them. It’s about you.

That’s what you need to keep telling yourself … it’s not about them, it’s about you. Well, and your mortgage companies. If you find one that does accept Active Rain badges as payment, let me know … I might actually step back into the compound and tell 10 people a day that they wrote a great post.

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Jack Leblond

    February 23, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I’m not a RE professional, nor do I play one on TV. I do, however, know a few things about blogging and the internet in general.

    I think that even as recently has a few (maybe less than one) years ago sites like this were a great help to new bloggers in your industry. As you said, that simple pat on the back from a “great post” comment can really boost a writer’s confidence and help them to keep push forward. However, ever since I discovered AG and was introduced to this community, I have been impressed at how an industry that is so competitive can also be so supportive of it’s members. You all back each other up; here on AG, on Twitter, on your blogs, and countless other places.

    If ever there was a warm, safe place for a new blogger, the Real Estate community is it.

  2. Ken Brand

    February 23, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Chuckle, chuckle….Webelos. Thanks for the flashback and the high definition perspective. Damn Fine stuff here.

    Rock ON Jonathan.

  3. Jo Soss

    February 23, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I love my badges! I even wrote a post about how much I love them 🙂

    Love your story – I wasn’t a Webelo but I was a Den Mother 🙂

  4. Melina Tomson

    February 23, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I am on AR and have a business blog outside of AR. I do think it is a great training ground for bloggers because when you start blogging you are clueless and yes, the forced commenting is nice to keep you going.

    I think for those that stick around and keep blogging, which is a small portion, they do venture outside the AR walls.

    I’m not a fan of the badges and have been assured that members will be able to disable them if they want. At least they removed the large raindrop from the comment stream. I really disliked that.

  5. Kim Hannemann

    February 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    I was one of the “Rainers” who didn’t qualify for the freeness, which as far as I can tell is OK because hardly anyone but other Rainers actually seem to visit Rain. Naturally, I’m not getting any steenkeen’ batches, either.

  6. Mark Eibner

    February 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    we’re at it again Save the Badges for the Webelos: Get out of your feed reader and comment on t.. https://tinyurl.com/be7rmb

  7. sheilabragg

    February 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Save the Badges for the Webelos: Get out of your feed reader and comment on this post- we PROMISE that the ShamW.. https://tinyurl.com/be7rmb

  8. Bob Stewart

    February 23, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    A cynical bastard? Geez, I didn’t mean for it to come off that harsh 🙂

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    February 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    It’s ok Bob, I think Jonathan knew it was a term of endearment! I would have considered it as such 🙂

    I think a lot of people need or appreciate some level of appreciation. Didn’t Napoleon say “Men, will die for ribbons”? …or something like that.

    It’s no different than when you go to a convention and the hand out those silly ribbons to put on name holder to say how important you are.

    It was fun in the beginning and then you realize that if you’re really a big deal, you don’t have to tell everyone.

    (I feel a post coming on…)

  10. JeffX

    February 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    …or long list of silly acronyms after your name. You will be able to earn (non AR product related) badges too.

    Its a quite fascinating phenomenon.

    Great post Jonathan, thanks for sharing 😉

  11. Paula

    February 23, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Jonathan –

    I don’t care about buttons, ribbons, plaques and awards, but the friendships and comraderie can’t be beat.

    Active Rain was great training ground for me, where I met many agents I still talk to and call friends. I left many months ago and was suprised to find I have one of the blue buttons near my head as an original rainer.

    Funny thing – with all those points, I don’t think I wrote much worth going back and reading, but at least I can blog for free there if I want 🙂

  12. Jonathan Dalton

    February 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Bob – I more than took care of my wounded pride with your bottles of Riesling. Matt’s right, though … I knew what you meant.

    Everyone – I’m not sure if I’m free or not. I haven’t logged on to check. I blame Teresa for all of this. Damn weenie got me thinking.

  13. Jamey Bridges

    March 20, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Jonathan,

    Too funny! My twin brother and I actually achieved Eagle Scout, so we had a few badges 🙂

    I would agree that if those who are on AR (myself included) focused on badges that would not be the best idea. A focus on quality information that generates leads that will turn into business is much better served. Because, as you pointed out, if you can’t earn the majority of the badges without payment, it doesn’t mean too much.

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Business Marketing

Simple way to send text, email appointment reminders to clients

(MARKETING) This new app has tons of automatic tools that help small businesses continue to move into the digital age with ease of use.

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reminders

As the world becomes more heavily reliant on automated messaging and computer-mediated communication, we become more reluctant to actually speak to someone on the telephone. While I often find myself in this category, I also feel saddened by what Alexander Graham Bell must think. I digress.

We can certainly argue that a major reason we prefer to text or email rather than sit on the phone is for convenience. We can send a quick text while working, as it’s much more difficult to get away with a phone call on the down low.

That’s why it’s become so popular for places such as doctor’s offices and salons to begin using text and email alerts as appointment reminders. Now, Remindr is getting in on the action.

According to their site, “Remindr.co is a tool for small businesses to schedule automated email and text message appointment reminders. Reduce your meeting no-shows by alerting your clients beforehand. Easily confirm appointments with your customers via text message.”

They proclaim that they’re “great for any business that schedules customer appointments or client meetings,” citing their top use cases as restaurant reservations, nail salons, personal trainers, barbers, tattoo shops, spas, real estate agents, independent car mechanics, and tech sales scheduling customer calls.

This is a win-win as it’s convenient for the customer, but also saves time on the business’s side because it eliminates hours of reminder calls. Additionally, the method supports the reduction of no-shows, which is incredibly important to businesses – especially small ones.

Remindr features include: text message, email, confirmation, reusable templates, schedule alerts, and easy user interface. With text messaging, businesses can send personalized SMS messages to customers from your Remindr phone number.

With email, businesses can send personalized email reminders to their customers through Remindr email addresses. Then, customers can confirm their appointment via text messages or email, and businesses can review confirmations on their Remindr account.

Businesses can create their own personalized reminder templates to pre-fill the reminder form (for example: “Hi NAME! We’re looking forward to your appointment tomorrow (DATE) at TIME. Respond YES to confirm your appointment.”) Reminders can be automatically sent via email or text at a predetermined time.

Remindr provides an easy user interface where businesses can start scheduling reminders instantly, use full-keyboard form navigation, and it is mobile friendly.

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Business Marketing

10 easy steps to get into Instagram marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want to up your social media marketing game? Start better with Instagram for your business using these easy tips to quickly get established.

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Instagram post open on a tablet

When Instagram first came on the scene, it was simply a place to share pictures of your cat or a pie that you just baked. While it still is a place for that kind of content, it has also grown into a platform where one can influence others and build an empire.

So, if you’re looking to step up your social media marketing game through use of Instagram, look no further than using these 10 steps from Neil Patel.

  1. Switch to a business profile: This is super easy and can be done in just a few clicks. Switching from a personal to a business profile gives a better look at your followers through Insights, allowing you to see analytics and impressions. It also adds a contact feature that takes a visitor right to an email draft to you – just like it would on your website. All this and it makes it possible to publish ads.
  2. Use free marketing tools: Because Facebook owns Instagram, they operate kind of similarly. As mentioned in #1, Insights allows for a deep dive into personalized analytics to see what kind of posts are clicking with your audience and which aren’t. That way, you know what kind of content to continue with and what to do away with.
  3. Post product teasers: There are a variety of ways to do this, including posting about flash sales or linking business platforms that sell your product to make it easier for your customer to shop. The trick here is to not be pushy, but instead be enticing and make the post convenient for your consumer.
  4. Create a sponsored ad: Like Facebook, you can post ads and include a specific budget of what you want to spend. You can showcase one ad or multiple with the carousel feature. You can also target the exact demographic you’re looking to hit.
  5. Instagram stories: These last 24 hours and don’t have to be as “fancy” as a regular post. Give followers a glimpse into your brand with behind-the-scenes shots, polls, fun questions, etc. Make them feel like they’re part of the experience and use this as a way to tell your brand’s story.
  6. Partner with influencers: Work out a deal with influencers who have a decent following. Send them one of your items in exchange for them posting a photo of the item and tagging your brand. This will reach their whole followership and build your credibility.
  7. Collect user-submitted photos: Share photos posted by customers loving on your brand or product. Either share them to your story, or use a regram app to repost customer photos to your feed. It’s basically free advertising for your product.
  8. Hashtags: Come up with an interactive hashtag solely for your brand. Think in terms of verbs (a la Nike’s “Just Do It”). It can be punny or practical, but something that people attribute to your brand and your brand only.
  9. Timing and over-posting: Look into the best times to post – this is when your users are most active. It will be helpful to use Insights to understand when your time to shine may be. According to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post. Also, don’t over post. It’s annoying and it’s always best to err on the side of quality over quantity.
  10. Track the right metrics: Insights do no good if you aren’t looking at the right data. You need to keep tabs on whether or not what you’re doing is increasing your follower growth as well as growth for your interaction. With research, use of Insights and a little trial and error, you’ll get yourself to where you need to be.

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Business Marketing

7 Low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses [sponsored]

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.

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low budget marketing ideas

The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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