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To Map or NOT to MAP – That is the question?

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In an age where small companies are trying to define the terms of how real estate is presented and practiced, medium to large brokerages are having to out leap the so-called deep thinkers. I remember when I became a Realtor, my idea of real estate was overshadowed by the naysayers who said that real estate cannot be changed, “it’s been this way for over 100 years.” Looking around at the industry on a horizon where all things are flat, they were right. Grab your print marketing dollars and go to town. Today, Realtors are faced with the choice- take a chance on big Internet marketing, mix the two or just go technology? I, for one, laugh every time I get a flyer on my door, but that does not make it irrelevant in the sense that it doesn’t work, ever.

This brings me to my fundamental issue of the moment, which is- do you bother to introduce IDX mapping to your online presence or go the way of the traditional bluehair and leave the static IDX image in tact? What do or will consumers want in the long run? I do believe that all buyers really want is an address and pictures, but in a world where Texas is touted as receiving 400,000 relos a year, we have to look at providing the larger picture for the buyer- they need to know what it means to be on XYZ St. Austin Tx, 78XXX.

I’ve spent the better part of 3 weeks looking at every end of mapping technology and was pleased to learn that a large cap investment isn’t necessary. IDX mapping is out there for all to see and purchase for their sites. I brought one of the sites online to test and try out, and as a nice pleasantry, they even waived the setup fee of $199.00. I completely give credit that the service is more flexible than other offerings in the market place, however, the look and feel of it answers to a bluehair’s idea of what modern technology looks like but ignores what those in the know are looking for. I did find a more packaged look from another company and we are in the process of conforming it. Meanwhile, I had to let the existing company know that I was going a different direction. That led to him asking me why I was leaving, to which I responded with the following:

There are 11 different idx map integration offerings in the market place that I’ve found but only two have a packaged interface that feels and looks more like google, yahoo, or msve- not to mention the countless other platforms such as zooven, and others that will be marching into our market place in the coming year. We either look like them, or loose market share to them. I’ll be watching your product over the coming months to see what if anything is improved, but for now, I have to go with what is the closest thing to a national look.

I went on to explain that I had called a few times with little success in reaching them for help in getting on the same page with no luck. Jeff replied with the following:

I will tell you that of the thousands of customers we have, the most prolific ones, do not use any mapping what so ever. As a matter of fact, they refuse to use it. The other 98% of our customers talk about “mapping” until they are blue in the face. And they are the ones who have very little traffic to their sites. And also do very little business. In my opinion, the whole mapping thing is horribly overstated. I base this opinion purely on the activity of our top customers sites.

The question is- is 98% of his base wrong, and the 2% correct? Are you saying that 98% of the market doesn’t drag down the 2% holdout total market share? Is a company who is totally focused on IDX integration saying that mapping integration is stupid? 98% of those who want mapping are either stupid or small potatoes?

Jeff with IDX Broker is actually a really nice guy, but I look at companies like Zillow, Google, Yahoo, Zooven and can see how these large companies will (in the long run) pick apart the market share of medium to small brokerages, and even some large ones. Think about it… the point of providing an online source for every need is to keep them coming to you again and again and then buy or sell. In Jeff’s world, the market share begins at purchase, not at online service, and if you want to cover all bases with great interactive options for buyers and sellers, you’re just stupid and the world is flat.

I digress in that I do not believe a search map on the front page being everything you offer is the way to go. I am simply trying to bring IDX Resale Searching back to the forefront in my market in a way that looks as fresh as an online non-realtor site. Is 98% now the minority?

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. john harper

    July 7, 2007 at 8:23 am

    Let me know your final choice of products. I like the analysis and questioning. I don’t see a link on your blog to your main site.

    I’m not sure I can buy Jeff’s comment – sounds like something a salesperson would throw out.

  2. Marty Van Diest

    July 8, 2007 at 12:04 am

    Just stopped by to read your post for carnival of real estate.

    I don’t have mapping on my site…guess I better step up.

    Huh? I don’t even have IDX on my site. Bettey get some blue hair dye.

  3. B. R.

    July 8, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Marty! You have a blog and you’re hosting the carnival! Hold up on that dye!

    Honestly, idx has been secondary on my site as well as the look and feel of it really leaves a lot to be desired. The point of all of this is is outsiders have reinvented it and made it “neato.” So why not provide it ourselves if technology allows…

    Thanks for coming by!

  4. Heinrich

    August 7, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Hey Realty Genius,
    Genius Realty here… We’ve had our mapping tool up for about two years now and it is home grown. Give it a run. It even uses Ajax at the beginning of the search. Let us know what you think of it.

  5. B. R.

    August 7, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    I checked out your site and your map search function- I searched all of Boise 3/2 200k to 300k as a simple test (this is the same test I run on all search sites) and it choked. My suggestion is limit results to 150 as a start and give searchers the option to load the full boat with a warning.

    It isn’t just your map product that does that, most of them do with mixed results. Either pictures do not load, the map is too congested w/ indicators, or the wait ends up frustrating those who are searching.

    All in all I liked your site and your search results. Nice clean lay out, clean interface, great spacing between results in lists. I liked the truck, great branding, nice logo and appeal.

    Cheers.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…

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Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Business Marketing

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.

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offline marketing billboard

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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Business Marketing

What you can learn from Ulta Beauty’s marketing mix up with Kate Spade

(MARKETING) Ulta Beauty’s insensitive marketing email surrounding the Kate Spade brand can be a lesson: Be cautious and respond to crisis appropriately.

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Woman typing on computer representing the Ulta Beauty and Kate Spade email scandal

Last week in an email sent to subscribers, Ulta Beauty made light of designer Kate Spade’s suicide. Ulta said the lighthearted connection to Spade’s death was unintentional. The email sparked anger across social media and some national news outlets picked up the story. In an emailed response to the New York Post, Ulta apologized to their customers, their Kate Spade corporate partners, and Kate Spade’s family. They ended by saying they will strive to do better.

Words matter. Messaging matters. Hopefully, we can all learn a lesson from this painful mistake.

Check your tone. It’s one of the early things we teach writing students. The tone should match the content. If the icon you’re using to sell a product ended their own life, perhaps light and fun isn’t the tone you should embrace. Ever. But most businesses won’t be dealing with well-known people whose stories have been shared with millions. It’s up to business owners and those who write their copy to ensure the tone matches the message.

Always have a second pair of eyes look over words going out to the public. Or even a third and fourth. Often those in the creative room are brainstorming messages, reworking copy, and looking for the perfect pitch. And they get it. It sounds good, looks good, is easy to say and share, and, best of all, it will lead to sales. Having a multi-person system in place to check the copy and someone separate to give final approval can help catch the oh-my-God-no great words, but absolutely not pieces of sales copy.

Listen to your customer base and have a system in place to listen quickly. All businesses need systems for immediate customer response in play. Ulta caught their so-called oversight quickly.  But they’re a huge brand and Kate Spade was a beloved fashion icon. The negative response went viral and they had a giant mess to clean up. Companies make messes with their words often, messes that don’t immediately go viral but lead to real pain for consumers. When customers ask you to stop a message, listen to them and act.

Apologies don’t make excuses. If you’re caught in a messaging mess of your own making, I’m sorry goes a long way. If needed, follow that apology up with a plan to show you’re serious about “doing better” and making sure this never happens again.

If you find yourself in a place where a public apology is necessary, consider hiring a crisis manager to help with that plan as well.

Part of business today is constant communication with consumers. Try to have systems in place so you don’t find yourself in a “learning to do better” moment like Ulta. Words aren’t just about sales. They have power. Remember that.

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