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Business Marketing

The End of the Year Big Bang Theory in Real Estate



turkeyThe news of the tax credit being extended and expanded rippled through the real estate industry as the masses of “seasonal” Realtors breathed a long awaited sigh of relief. For a while there it seemed like we might have to grind through the holidays (gasp!) and who wants to do that, right? I mean, prospective clients are either all turkey-ed up in their Tryptophan high or fist fighting over LCD screens after Thanksgiving. Everyone knows that the market is dead during the holidays. How about this instead? We take these 5-6 weeks to recharge our batteries and come back with a brand new resolutions list for 2010 that – like all other years – we have zero intention of following through on. Now, where’s that Best Buy insert?

Dissipating Urgency

Stimulus efforts, like any other government action, bring with them strong, polarized opinions that fuel the usual blog posts. But given that as of late, my interest in political debate has been subzero, I am going to leave that for the AG Sunday Politics. From a more pragmatic standpoint however, this thought kept rearing its head in my mind over and over again. In the PreExtension Era, the doubts about the measure passing were causing back muscles to contract, postures to straighten and holiday plans to change. There was more hustling in the forecast with a 50% chance of drumming up more business. Now, as the urgency dissipates many of us are taking the rest of this year off knowing that their fair share of the tax credit dough is awaiting right up the road.

You Get What You Put In

In my last post, I told you about my Russell Shaw-induced ephiphany : Every dollar you make today originates in some action you took 60-90 days ago. With that in mind, what do you suppose will happen come February or March if you take the next month off? Don’t answer that. Look, if mediocrity is a viable option for you, I can’t argue with that. But if you are looking for a way to make the next 4-5 weeks really count, end the year with the Big Bang and fuel the 1st quarter of 2010 to your best ever, here’s your plan:

  1. Exclusive Focus on Appointments – A month full of closings is always preceded by a month (or two) full of appointments. It would seem as obvious as it sounds, until you notice that the overwhelming majority of real estate agents out there seem to do everything but focus on appointments. They love preparing to prepare, even sharing their preparation methods through social media to much praise and applause. But when it comes time to act, it’s just more prep. The harsh truth is you can’t make soup  if you only chop onions from here until Easter. What do I mean by exclusive focus? Tomorrow morning, sit down with your team or yourself and don’t get up until you have answered this question: What can we do to get a minimum of 4 qualified appointments per week, every week starting today? Then brainstorm without worrying about logistics. Come up with ideas that are efficient short term and a plan to implement them. For instance, you might plan an hour a day of phone calls to your past clients – they might be looking to move up or know someone who’s buying or selling or leasing. If you are already generating leads, you make them first priority then you leave 5 empty spots. Nothing gets done until leads are called back and followed up diligently. If you don’t have any leads, your first priority is to generate some. Call some local agents with listings that have been on the market awhile and see if they wouldn’t mind if you helped them advertise the property at your own cost. Then use classified sites to generate business. Or bandit signs. Or expireds. Whatever you come up with, put it on a calendar and follow it like a damn cult. If you are doing it right, there shouldn’t be any time left for Facebook, Yoville, Twitter or the Moron Test.
  2. Get to KNOW your stats – As Matt as pointed out here before, incorporating a stats solution like AltosResearch on your website can result in increased traffic and higher number of leads over the long term. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I mean KNOW your stats, like they were hardwired into your brain. In my experience, the best way to do this is by preparing for a video market report. Print out the monthly stats released by your MLS on your real estate market and study those figures. Get to know the median sales price, the trend of sales, inventory levels, foreclosure impact etc. When you have to do a concise 2 min segment on your market, you HAVE to know your numbers to get through it. And even if you never publish the video to the world, you have just polished a major selling skill. Next time a prospect asks you about how the market is doing,  your response will no longer be a vague “slow but getting better”. Instead you will blow their mind if you can deliver solid market data in a manner they can digest.
  3. Invest in some 2.0 – The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things expecting a different result. Ultimately is about generating abundant leads. Point 1 above talks about some short term tactics that could generate some short term success but in the end you have to make some smart and prudent investments to propel your business. If your site stills looks like some software from 1999 threw up some links and endless paragraphs on a page, it might be time for an upgrade. If you have the skill (or the time to learn) create a dynamic site with and bring your look and functionality into the current century for under $100 with premium themes. Or you can have someone do it for you for an affordable price (hundreds) that’s usually just a fraction of the cost on a full fledged custom design (thousands). Next, pimp it with a great IDX search solution, that will pay for itself in just a few months and keep producing for you as long as your site is up. (Diverse Solutions is what I rock). Next, you could elevate your marketing with a syndicated virtual tour tool: Create tours of your own listings or features of communities you cover and distributed them everywhere with a click. (i.e. RealEstateShows and MLBroadcast). Finally, the database is the lifeline of your business and it should be managed as such. Whether you go server-based (REST, Outlook or Act) or web-based (Heap, Javelin or Highrise), pick one that best suits your needs and USE IT.
  4. Exclusive focus on appointments.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...

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  1. Joe Loomer

    November 26, 2009 at 7:20 am


    This is a perfect bookend for Ken Brand’s “How to Plough Deep While Sluggards Sleep” post earlier this week, and I’ve had that Russell Shaw quote spinning in my head since your last missive. Great reminders to get out there and get humpin’ – make the New Year sizzle with the business other agents are blowing off right now.

    I do, however, take issue with – “If you are doing it right, there shouldn’t be any time left for Facebook…” If you’re doing Social Media right, it’s a part of your efforts. I take it you probably meant spending time in Farmville or playing Mafia Wars and such?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride!

    Oh, and by the way – HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

  2. Scott Cowan

    November 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks for a well written and spot on post.

    What we work on today will pay us in 60 to 90 days is the mantra I use daily. I used to wonder why my business was so much like a roller coaster. Now, I know focused work = consistent results.

  3. Erion Shehaj

    November 26, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Only a Navy Chief would comment on a post at 7:20 am on Thanksgiving Day. Much appreciated, Sir. 🙂

    As far as the Facebook line, it was within the context of the idea that for a relatively short period of time (4-6 weeks) it’s easier to focus entirely on generating business without any distractions. I remain steadfast on the idea that social media must remain part of any agent’s long term strategy.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    November 27, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Erion – First, thanks for the mention. I would (logically) assume I am the Matt in question. I’ve been thinking about how to best prep myself for the coming year and your post came at a great time for me. Appointments are something I have been lax at acquiring. I get them and I get the business, but I don’t get enough of them. I’m currently thinking of ways to increase this. As for your comments about stats, I love the idea of the video. It’s kind of like practicing a speech in the mirror before the big debate. I do try and understand my stats, but I do find myself to often giving generic answers and then following up with the market report via email or a follow up call. Not sure why I do that, so now I have some work to do.

    Thanks for the post Erion, you may have just helped me be twice as successful in the coming year.

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.



headphones listen podcasts

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

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.

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 popular 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,, 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 than 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 technology 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.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…



family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.



side hustle paperwork and technology

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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