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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

Amazon attracts advertisers from Facebook after Apple privacy alterations

(MARKETING) After Apple’s privacy features unveil, Amazon adapts by taking a unique approach to targeting, disrupting revenue for the ad giant Facebook.

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Two African American women work at their desks, one viewing Amazon's advertising landing page.

As a de facto search engine of its own persuasion, Amazon has been poaching ad revenue from Google for some time. However, disrupting the revenue stream from their most recent victim – Facebook – is going to turn some heads.

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s recent privacy additions to products such as iPhones are largely responsible for the shift in ad spending. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram were originally goldmines for advertisers, these privacy features prevent tracking for targeting – a crucial aspect in any marketing campaign.

Internet privacy has been featured heavily in tech conversations for the last several years, and with Chrome phasing out third-party cookies, along with Safari and Firefox introducing roughly analogous policies, social media advertising is bound to become less useful as tracking strategies struggle to keep up with the aforementioned changes.

However, Amazon’s wide user base and separate categorization from social media companies makes it a clear alternative to the Facebook family, which is perhaps why Facebook advertisers are starting to jump ship in an effort to preserve their profits.

This is the premise behind the decision to reduce the Facebook ad spending of Vanity Planet by 22%, a home spa vendor, while facilitating a transition to Amazon. “We have inventory…and the biggest place we are growing is Amazon,” says Alex Dastmalchi, the entrepreneur who runs Vanity Planet.

That gap will only widen with Apple’s new privacy features. Bloomberg reports that when asked in June if they would consent to having their internet activity tracked, only one in four iPhone users did so; this makes it substantially harder for the ad campaigns unique to Facebook to target prospective buyers.

It also means that Amazon, having demonstrated a profound effectiveness in targeting individuals both pre- and post-purchase, stands to gain more than its fair share of sellers flocking to promote their products.

Jens Nicolaysen, co-founder of Shinesty (an eccentric underwear company), affirms the value that Amazon holds for sellers while acknowledging that it isn’t a perfect substitute for social media. While Nicolaysen laments the loss of the somewhat random introduction charm inherent on Instagram, he also believes in the power of brand loyalty, especially on a platform as high-profile as Amazon. “The bigger you are, the more you lose by not having any presence on Amazon,” he explains.

As privacy restrictions continue to ramp up in the coming months, it will be interesting to see how social media advertising evolves to keep up with this trend; it seems naive to assume that Amazon will replace Facebook’s ads entirely, tracking or no tracking.

Apple's privacy landing page showing iPhone users ability to shut off location services and a desktop image of a user's ability to control how their data is managed.

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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!

This story was first published in January 2020.

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Business Marketing

Jack of all trades vs. specialized expert – which are you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It may feel tough to decide if you want to be a jack of all trades or have an area of expertise at work. There are reasons to decide either route.

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jack of all trades learning

When mulling over your career trajectory, you might ask yourself if you should be a jack of all trades or a specific expert. Well, it’s important to think about where you started. When you were eight years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Teacher? Doctor? Lawyer? Video Game Developer? Those are common answers when you are eight years old as they are based on professionals that you probably interact with regularly (ok, maybe not lawyers but you may have watched LA Law, Law & Order or Suits and maybe played some video games – nod to Atari, Nintendo and Sega).

We eventually chose what areas of work to gain skills in and/or what major to pursue in college. To shed some light on what has changed in the last couple of decades:

Business, Engineering, Healthcare and Technology job titles have grown immensely in the last 20 years. For example, here are 9 job titles that didn’t exist 20 years ago in Business:

  1. Online Community Manager
  2. Virtual Assistant
  3. Digital Marketing Expert
  4. SEO Specialist
  5. App Developer
  6. Web Analyst
  7. Blogger
  8. Social Media Manager
  9. UX Designer

We know that job opportunities have grown to include new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, consumer-generated content, instant gratification, gig economy and freelance, as well as many super-secret products and services that may be focused on the B2B market, government and/or military that we average consumers may not know about.

According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics after doing a survey of baby boomers, the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. That number is likely on the rise with generations after the Baby Boomers. Many people are moving away from hometowns and cousins they have grown up with.

The Balance Careers suggests that our careers and number of jobs we hold also vary throughout our lifetimes and our race is even a factor. “A worker’s age impacted the number of jobs that they held in any period. Workers held an average of 5.7 jobs during the six-year period when they were 18 to 24 years old. However, the number of jobs held declined with age. Workers had an average of 4.5 jobs when they were 25 to 34 years old, and 2.9 jobs when they were 35 to 44 years old. During the most established phase of many workers’ careers, ages 45 to 52, they held only an average of 1.9 jobs.”

In order to decide what you want to be, may we suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • Should you work to be an expert or a jack of all trades?
  • Where are you are at in your career and how have your skills progressed?
  • Are you happy focusing in on one area or do you find yourself bored easily?
  • What are your largest priorities today (Work? Family? Health? Caring for an aging parent or young children?)

If you take the Gallup CliftonStrengths test and are able to read the details about your top five strengths, Gallup suggests that it’s better to double down and grown your strengths versus trying to overcompensate on your weaknesses.

The thing is, usually if you work at a startup, small business or new division, you are often wearing many hats and it can force you to be a jack of all trades. If you are at a larger organization which equals more resources, there may be clearer lines of your job roles and responsibilities versus “the other departments”. This is where it seems there are skills that none of us can avoid. According to LinkedIn Learning, the top five soft skills in demand from 2020 are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional Intelligence

The top 10 hard skills are:

  1. Blockchain
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Analytical Reasoning
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. UX Design
  6. Business Analysis
  7. Affiliate Marketing
  8. Sales
  9. Scientific Computing
  10. Video Production

There will be some folks that dive deep into certain areas that are super fascinating to them and they want to know everything about – as well as the excitement of becoming an “expert”. There are some folks that like to constantly evolve and try new things but not dig too deep and have a brief awareness of more areas. It looks safe to say that we all need to be flexible and adaptable.

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