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The Window




Three dollars/character

A Houston Chronicle salesperson cold called me yesterday to check if I wanted to place an ad in their real estate classifieds and it brought back memories of staying on hold, waiting to place my $500/week three liner with them five years ago. Suppress that chuckle. In 2004, one of those babies would make the phone ring off the hook and put deals on the pipeline. So I went back for more – just like everyone else.

Missing the revolution

Newspapers were effective because they owned the eyeballs through and through. Not just for real estate, either. It didn’t matter if you were looking for a dog, a job, a mansion or a pair of pliers, you had no other choice but to hit the classifieds. Due to this “monopoly”, newspapers had a cashcow of a business model: They made money from the readers (who bought the content) as well as marketers placing classified ads and big ticket “banner” page ads (who bought a shot at the readers). No wonder Rupert Murdoch once called classified revenues “rivers of gold”.  That was until Google and Craigslist simultaneously pulled the rug from underneath and turned those rivers into the Mojave. Google took away the eyeballs and Craigslist made it silly to pay for classifieds. These days, your local newspaper’s classified section (if it still exists) looks like Mary Kate Olsen on a liquid diet.

The Internet revolution is going to be like all the other revolutions we have seen in history.

It’s going to be over before a lot of us even know it started

– Adolpho Suarez

People always gripe about missing the revolution. “If only someone had told me that  people would use Google to find everything, I would have …”

The window

house-hunting-twitterLet this be that moment when someone tells you about a window we have never had before. The large-scale embrace of social media by the masses is giving marketers an unprecented, real time, honest look into people’s daily lives and all the thoughts, events and needs within them.  And to think that this is just the beginning. What used to require top of mind awareness, now requires a mere Twitter or FriendFeed search. Individuals are using social media to organize revolutions, get corporations to listen, or scream for help. The window comes with a killer zoom, too. You can target your vision to see within 5 miles of a zipcode, in an entire metroplex or the whole world. Then, Engage. Help. Offer Value. And get as much business as you want.

But be careful as the window works both ways. The consumer now has a window into what you’re about as well. And if you’re about spamcasting and throwing your crap to the wall to see what sticks, you will be exposed for such and suffer the consequences.

This is not about a single company (Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook or what have you) but about a seismic change in the way our world works. This is the new West. And someone told you so.

Photo Credit: Grant MacDonald

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. Ian Greenleigh

    July 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I used to sell ads to government offices, and as late as last year, many of them were bound by law and code to ONLY advertise job openings in their local newspapers. They have little incentive to change this policy. It seems like the same mentality pervades *some* RE professionals/brokerages regarding twitter, text ads, etc. They haven’t used these means and they don’t intend to, because it’s not yet the norm. The major difference is that RE professionals DO have a major incentive to change…it’s profit!

  2. Ken Brand

    July 2, 2009 at 4:23 pm


    Amen. Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows…but know we know it never stops and if you take the time to hop on, you’ll zoom ahead.

    These times are the most interesting.

    Nice post.

  3. Erion Shehaj

    July 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm


    Not only do they avoid new strategies because they’re not the norm. They avoid them even after the norm stops working.


    Interesting times, indeed. And happy to be a part of them.

  4. Steve Beam

    July 3, 2009 at 7:42 am

    It amazes me how few RE agents even know about the “new age”. My office still collects $45 a month from us to advertise in a local paper here. When I wake up in the morning and watch the people in my neighborhood get their “free paper” with our ad in it they take it from the driveway to the garage trash can without ever opening it. Money well spent. Print ads are dead.

  5. Todd Waller

    July 3, 2009 at 8:10 am

    The continuing use of print by real estate agents reminds me of a story:

    Scientists, in an attempt to understand group behavior in chimps, placed 10 chimps in a cage with a ladder in the middle of the cage. Hanging just above the top of the ladder was a bunch of bananas.

    Anytime one of the ten chimps attempted to ascend the ladder to grasp at the bananas, the scientists turned on a hose of cold water and sprayed down the whole group of chimps.

    After a time, no chimp would even go near the ladder.

    The scientists then decided to remove one original chimp and replace it with one that did not go through the water hose experience.

    New chimp looks both ways, and begins to ascend the ladder to the bananas…

    The nine original chimps, seeing this behavior, and know what’s coming, beat seven kinds of stuff out of the new chimp before he gets too far up the ladder.

    This process repeats every time a new chimp is introduced to the cage.

    The scientists proceed to replace each original chimp with an “unconditioned” chimp and every time, the new comer gets seven kinds of stuffing beat out of him for attempting to grasp the banana.

    The moral of the story: we do things this way because this is the way it’s ‘always’ been done.

    Now go out there and be a scientist! Make up your own tests, track the results, and weed out the practices that DON’T work or can’t be analytically tracked…

    Go ahead, reach for the bananas!



  6. Erion Shehaj

    July 4, 2009 at 5:05 am


    I got my lab coat on 🙂

  7. Marie Kratsios

    August 6, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Yes, but today Rupert Murdoch announced that his online media will no longer be free. He may be starting a new model for online advertising. Will be interesting to see how this develops.

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Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.



Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.



Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.



Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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