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The Secret of My So-Called Success

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Several months ago, someone off-handedly observed that I don’t like to share the secrets of my so-called success. Maybe it’s because I’ve never felt all that successful (and likely never will) or maybe it’s because I believe what I do is transparent. In any case, I’m certainly not in a position such as Russell Shaw where I’ve earned the right to pontificate on what I do and what you ought to do.

In any event, if I had to explain what it is that I do to generate business in one word or less, it would have to be “Internet”. It’s about that simple. This isn’t just about blogging, though the blogging is paying off in this era of the Canadian buyer coming south. It’s about having a direct, value-added web presence.More importantly, especially to those new agents who are experiencing the feeling of having a dozen hands in your wallet from the get-go, leveraging the power of the Internet and particularly the blogs is one of the most cost-efficient prospecting tools available.

Postcards, football schedules and other silliness

My first marketing piece as a series of high school football schedules, hand created and printed on my miserable HP printer. They looked good. They did nothing. I went to a professional printer for a mailer with Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals schedules. They also did nothing.

Then came the monthly mailers – every month a new picture of Tobey with some almost clever cutline – sent to a thousand or so homes in a handful of subdivisions. It took a few hours to print, cut, label and mail all of the postcards. And after two years of this, I had exactly two deals to show for all of the work. ROI probably came out flat on that one.

Compare that to my original website, which took about an hour a week to maintain and started to pay dividends two months out of the box. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want a website just to have a website. And so I took everything I didn’t like about all of these other sites, culled the few things I did, and there it was.

Evolution to the blog

It wasn’t until July 2006 that I really started blogging. And it’s been at the heart of my prospecting ever since. There’s little cost involved, aside from the time spent in front of the computer. It’s search-engine friendly. And it speaks to people in a way that recipe cards in the mail can’t.

(And don’t even get me started on door-knocking. No one wants to see a 300-pound man schvitzing on their doorstep.)

I’ve learned much through the blogs I read and believe I’ve been able to share quality information with my peers and the public along the way. Somewhere down the line my blog even became a local blog, though I don’t know how this happened. It certainly wasn’t a concerted effort. Or maybe it was …

Blogging = prospecting

There’s no denying that real estate is a face-to-face, belly-to-belly business. But you have to find a way to get the public in front of you in order to do face-to-face. Blogging, or any concerted web presence, can help you do that. Simply telling new agents they need to get in front of people without giving any indication how isn’t just wrong, it’s shameful. Because what you’re doing is setting them up to spend a fortune buying all of these advertising systems and prospecting methods that cost a fortune and return very little.

My regular blog reaches 100 or so readers a day. My niche websites such as Westbrook Village Real Estate attract another 75 or so viewers a day, all looking specifically for real estate in a specific neighborhood. Simply put, this is prospecting – I’m reaching out and getting in front of consumers, albeit in a low-pressure, no-hassle kind of way.

Right now I have about a dozen or so Canadian buyers in my pipeline … every one of them came to me because they found me on the web. Every one of my listings came to me from the web, either the blog or my static websites. Of the deals I will have closed by the end of May, all but two came as a result of the web. A full 52% of my career sales have come through the Internet.

There’s more than one way

So to summarize … get a good website. These days you can take a WordPress platform, turn it into a decent website and have a blog on the side like what I set up for a colleague in my office (who better add some content soon, I might add.)

You don’t have to rely solely on the website but it ought to be a component of your overall marketing strategy. I almost guarantee you it will be the most cost-efficient marketing you will find. All you need to invest is minimal hosting fees, possibly a setup fee and then a little bit of time.

Spend an hour working on a blog or knocking on the doors of people who don’t want to see a solicitor standing on their doorstep? Seems like a no-brainer from here.

And now I’ve shared.

UPDATE: If you read an earlier version, this one’s a little different. A couple of people thought I was attacking the host here … I sort of assumed anyone who has read anything I’ve ever written understand there are equal parts sarcasm, irony and hyperbole in just about everything I write. In any event, the intent never was to attack anyone or have them perceived their were attacked.

As a side note, if my novel “Lost on the River” ever is published, I’d like the good citizens of Las Vegas who read the first line to know it’s nothing personal.

Thanks for all the fish. – J

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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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Vicki Moore

    April 7, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    And thank you for sharing. It sounds like you suffer from what a lot of us have: successful-itis. Definition: People think we’re bigger/better than we think of ourselves.

  2. Craig Frooninckx

    April 7, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Nice, direct, to the point and you’re not selling anything. Best advise I’ve seen in awhile.

  3. Jay Thompson

    April 7, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Great post JD. Blogging is prospecting, really nothing more. It works for some, and not others (just like any form of prospecting). It’s not instant (just like any form of prospecting). Applied diligently, it can work very well (just like any form of prospecting).

    For what it’s worth, I read the original version and didn’t think you even remotely attacked anyone.

  4. Charles Woodall

    April 7, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Great post Jonathan and sage advice for all agents. Now, I have a question for you.

    You mentioned that your regular blog (daltonsazhomes I would assume) gets 100 or so readers each day. Is that traffic you are talking about, or subscribed readers, either by email or in a feedreader?

    I ask because I am curious as to what kind of traffic I should be expecting, fully six months into my effort. I would interested in any and all input on this.

    Thanks in advance.

  5. Jim Duncan

    April 7, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    If this “blogging” thing isn’t instant, I quit.

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    April 7, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Charles – Google Analytics shows 100 visits a day. I’ve actually got about 170 or so subscribers, depending on the day. I’m assuming GA is hard clicks but I’ve never worried about it enough to double check it.

    Jim – it was worth a try. Best of luck with cold calling. 🙂

    Vicki – probably the way it ought to be. I’ve seen it the other way, where we perceive ourselves as better than everyone else does and it ain’t pretty.

    Craig – much appreciated! And Jay – Thanks all around!

  7. BawldGuy Talking

    April 7, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Jonathan — I’ve been pissed at Steve Jobs for not sharing his secrets with Dell too. 🙂 Good Grief.

  8. Larry Yatkowsky

    April 7, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Nice to know Canucks make a difference in your life. Now if they could only play hockey .>)

  9. Bill Lublin

    April 8, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Jonathan – Nice post – and I agree, you should never buy into your own PR 🙂 For your perception you have earned a free lunch certificate from the Restaurant at the end of the Universe!

  10. Jonathan Dalton

    April 8, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Larry – they can, just not in Vancouver.

    Bill – “might I suggest my shoulder? It’s quite tender this evening.”

  11. Chris Johnson

    April 8, 2008 at 11:14 am

    WEllllllllllllI I’ll take the bait. And say that you’re dead wrong.

    In my own blog.

    LAter.

  12. Matt Scoggins

    April 8, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Great post! I couldn’t agree more.

  13. Jonathan Dalton

    April 8, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Chris – I’ll take the bait back …

    If I’m writing about what has worked for me, how can I be dead wrong? Do you have some deep insight into where my closings are coming from that I don’t? Am I sleepwalking and knocking on doors?

    You’re welcome to argue the merits of prospecting online but I’m not sure how you can tell me that that isn’t what has worked for me. I’m pretty sure I’m right when it comes to where my clients come from.

  14. Matthew Rathbun

    April 8, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Just for the record, I think that playing solitaire on the desk duty computer and randomly calling people out of an archaic phonebook, thus increasing my chances of an $11,000 federal fine is WAAAAYYY more fun than using the internet. I mean who wouldn’t want to pay for a ineffective $400 print media ad to “make the seller happy?” That low cost social media stuff that really requires me to meet the client where they are, is just too much for me to handle…..

    Ok, I’m done being cynical….

    Your humble approach to delivering information is your strength. I am glad that this approach is working for you. That means that you’re doing it well.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.

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Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

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