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What does God have to do with Real Estate?

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Foundations

I am a pretty active guy, always on the go and always pushing toward the next goal. I get up, go to my desk start working until I”m exhausted and can go to bed. Working, making time for my daughters and my wife allows for precious little quiet time or time for reflection. However, in the quiet hours of the early dawn, when the sun is just breaching the horizon, my mind starts turning, its at that time that mistakes of the past, failures and missed opportunities start to haunt. In these moments my belief system guides me toward peace and brings clarity to unanswerable questions. My faith is strong and it’s what I rely on to answer the haunting of failure and the screaming of pressing goals. Its what drives me to desire a better balance to my work and personal life, to be more to my children than my parents were; to love my wife the way she deserves to be loved. My essence is defined in the foundation of my belief in God.

However, my foundation is not something that I will use to gain an upper-hand on my competition.

Misconceptions and Perceptions

When first licensed, I branded my business as a “Christian Agent”, I wouldn’t advertise in the church bulletin or pass out cards at church, but I perceived that my belief system would bring like minded clients. The heterogeneity of beliefs is a funny thing. Being a person who believes in God, or any other Deity means so many different things to so many different people. I quickly found that regardless of what we called ourselves, the clients that were drawn to me through the use of religious imagery on my business cards or webpage, did not necessarily think the same way that I did. Within my first year, I dropped using any reference to religion in my business marketing. I was far better off once I had made that separation. The perception from competition is typically, that they think you’re merely using your church as a way to gain an unfair advantage. The perception of most consumers is that they don’t care or will see you as an easy target.

What about Fair Housing

As a Fair Housing instructor, I get tons of questions in class, e-mails and phone calls tattle-telling on one agent or another who has a fish or a cross on their business card. Recently I saw an advertisement for an agent stating that she was “The Lord’s Realtor.”  I personally find this exclusionary marketing line, offensive. However, so long as these marketing venues of the practices of the agents aren’t ‘limiting the choices” of a protected class, there is nothing illegal about them. Do I think they are a good idea – no.

Are you Attractive or Offensive?

Beliefs are typically very personal to people. It has been my experience and feedback from other consumers that they do not feel comfortable working with people who are so zealous about their beliefs as to use them a marketing ploy. You also have the group, who may believe the same as you, but are offended that you would try and use their beliefs as a gimmick. My personal experience is that the folks who I’ve worked with in the past, who profess to be on the same belief are typically the most difficult to work with. When you combine all of these ideologies and experiences – what exactly was the benefit of using religious imagery in your marketing?

I feel the same about religious bumper stickers 😉 No one drives well enough to be a banner for your Deity!

Let Your Passions Influence Your Work

If you are passionate about your beliefs than continue to let them be a guiding force in how you conduct yourself and your business.  I completely encourage you to allow your faith to be a cornerstone, however it shouldn’t be a stumbling block.  Not everyone believes in a Deity or religion for that matter, and they certainly do not all believe the same way.  One of my very best and most trusted friends has completely opposing views as I do, on this matter; but she is trusted and cherished as a friend, non-the-less.  There are many good, ethical people out there practicing real estate and it has nothing to do with their attendance at a  Synagogue, Mosque or Church.  Treat clients fairly and honestly regardless of the personal beliefs.  People will start to sense your passions soon enough – regardless of if you “advertise” them or not.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Mariana Wagner

    October 31, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Thank you, Matt.

    I think that we should LIVE our beliefs – not advertise them.

  2. Craig Barrett

    October 31, 2008 at 8:56 am

    You said: If you are passionate about your beliefs than continue to let them be a guiding force in how you conduct yourself and your business.

    How absolutely true. It doesn’t matter one iota to my clients if I believe, what I believe, or how I believe. An ideology, religion or belief system is personal and is better served through intrapersonal communication and/or reflection.

  3. Poppy Dinsey

    October 31, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Great post Matt.

    Speaking from the UK, I always find it bizarre that religion is used in marketing in the States. I see lots of real estate pros using their religion in their email signatures, business cards, websites etc and just think ‘OH MY GOD (excuse the pun) WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?’. I’ve never ever seen it done here.

    For some reason the whole thing just angers me and I can safely say that I would never work with someone that wanted to ram their religion down my throat. I find it offensive. And I know a lot of other people would feel the same, it just isn’t relevant to business.

    I’m very proud of my faith, but to wear it as a badge of honour seems silly. As you say, my religion influences my behaviour and ethics anyway…so why do I need to stamp it on my business card?

    It doesn’t matter if you’re an atheist or a Muslim, what matters is how you conduct yourself in business. And there are plenty of people of my own religion that I wouldn’t want to work with 😉

  4. George Wynn

    October 31, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Great post, Matt!
    “Let Your Passions Influence Your Work”

    This statement alone stresses the fact that we need to go on living with so much passion to everything we do. Do things that you dont want to and you’ll be having a hard time doing it right?

    You perfectly brought the idea and I can relate to it well.

    Thanks for posting!

  5. Missy Caulk

    October 31, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    My faith motivates and undergirds everything I do, but it is only for others to see not for me to wear on my T-Shirts or broadcast.

  6. Paula Henry

    November 1, 2008 at 6:34 am

    There is a time and place for everything and I agree with you. I used to have my car wrapped with my name, business and phone number – it looked good, but it meant I always had to drive nice. I’m just not that good.

    Passion is the one thing you can not hide or fake; when people see you have passion for your business and conduct yourself as a professional,religion doesn’t matter.

    I never put the fact I am a Christian on anything business, because once again, I am just not that good.

  7. Bill Lublin

    November 1, 2008 at 7:15 am

    Matt;
    I am not one to advertise or proselytize and therefore my faith is not something that I would discuss or even think of in a business situation. Frankly, I am bothered by agents who qualify their vocation by being a “blank” agent or broker – it seems to indicate to me that they have a predisposition that is not part of the real estate transaction.

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I care so little what faith an individual finds comfort in that I don’t even want to discuss it in any context that is not philosophical or educational. I am not judgmental in any manner about someone Else’s faith, I just don’t need to have that impinge on things that are IMHO unrelated to the business experience we are sharing.

    My faith does ask that I act as a righteous man, am charitable to others, and act in a manner that “heals the world”. In my own way I do these things every day, and that brings me a measure of comfort and a sense of fulfillment. And that’s what works for me. Everyone else needs to find their own answers.

  8. Brian Block

    November 1, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Matt,

    Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!

    It is the way that we act and operate in our daily lives and our business that shows people much more than words or taglines how we believe and what our core values are.

    How many times have you been rudely cut off in traffic by someone with half a dozen religious bumper stickers on their car? It happens.

    How about the religious advertising agent who gets involved in an ethical dispute, or even something more benign like “buying a listing”?

    As in politics, with religion, I judge someone by their actions, not by their words.

  9. Vicki Moore

    November 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    I agree and really like how Mariana said it as well. I don’t do business or not with people based on their religious or political beliefs. I think those are things you learn about people should I decide to continue to work with or be friends with them because of how they act and treat me, not what they believe. What they believe may determine how they act but I want to see it, not hear about it.

  10. teresa boardman

    November 2, 2008 at 8:16 am

    thanks for writing this. I recently got into a struggle with a company over this issue. They want me to do something for them but their marketing is “hyper Christian”. I respect all religious beliefs but have some strong opinions on using religion in marketing. I also have a core value that what we actually do is so much more important than what we say. I never discuss religion but those who know me know what my values are as they see them in my actions.

  11. Matthew Rathbun

    November 2, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Thanks gang for reading and commenting. I was a bit nervous posting this, but feel that it’s a common issue that folks struggle with.

    I do want to add on top of all the comments that some of you have added, this observation:

    Too often in the practice of real estate, things just don’t seem “fair.” Those strategic recommendations I make to the seller-client may not be perceived as “fair” to the buyer-client.

    The reality is that in the course of representation, often times one party needs to have a “smaller win” than the other. (for those unlike myself who believe there are no losers in RE).

    If I’m marketing myself under my religion, than those folks who don’t “win” in the transaction will use it as one more evidential fact that (insert your religion here) is hypocritical…

    Keep your convictions out of your marketing, but let them guide your service.

    I’ve had a few off-topic comments to the contrary of my post and I am thankful that those folks at least gave me the opportunity to chat with them. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

    Bill: I FULLY agree that you, of all the people I know, truly walk out your faith. You’re one the most self-less RE folks I’ve ever met!

  12. Karen Rice

    November 2, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    I need to chime in and agree. As a “born again Christian” I find it distasteful to my Lord to try and use Him in order to secure business. I glorify Him with the way I work. I know of a certain agent who has bible verses all over his profile – but I wouldn’t want him to help me buy a dog house.

    It’s not being ashamed of Christ – as some may suggest. It’s honoring Him so much as to not make a commercial spectacle of my faith.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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nostalgia

Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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