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What’s Worth Knowing?

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Teach Me Something

There has been a lot of reference to how much can be learned if practitioners were to read industry blogs. However recently I’ve noticed that the RE.net has put more emphases on who’s blog is bigger…oops, I mean better. There is seemingly more in-fighting than valuable information in recent days. Therefore, I want to take a reprieve from that pattern.

As I’ve stated before, there are two books I think should be required reading for all practitioners. The first is the Swanepoel Report and the second is the NAR profile of Buyers and Sellers. I want to take a few points from those resources to get you thinking.

Why Such Concern?

Swanepoel’s Report said that “87% of Brokers (surveyed) feel that servicing smarter and more informed consumers are their largest concern.”

I have no idea why the industry fears such things. I don’t want information about the buying process, hidden from me as a consumer, why would we expect that the consumer wouldn’t want as much information as they could get? The consumer who has a good handle on the process, should be that much easier to work with. Having the knowledge doesn’t mean that they no longer have a need for an agent. To the contrary; the information is so overwhelming, they need to have someone to aggregate it for them. The fact that movie previews reveal the entire movie, doesn’t stop people from going to the theater to watch the entire movie.

Show Me The Numbers!

NAR’s 2007 report shows that when consumers (reported 87% use the internet in their search – I think that’s low) search the internet for real estate information, they found the following useful:

84% Photos (at least 6) – Yet the average number of listing photos are 2

82% Detailed Listing Information

60% Virtual Tours / Real Estate Shows / Videos

39% Maps of the area surrounding the property

37% Neighborhood Information

26% Agent Information

I think it’s easy to extract from this information exactly how an Agent should setup their webpages. I think it’s also easy to see why Blogs are such a powerful tool, currently. Most blogs that I visit have very basic information about the agent or author; they are generally full of real estate information. The blog writers talk about the area, how to search for homes, and why certain types of agency practices or benefits. Knowing what the consumer is looking for, should help decide what to write about.

What Is the Consumer Looking For?

Knowing what the consumer found useful is actually the second step, knowing what they started off looking for is also important.

95% were looking for Properties For Sale

21% were looking for Area Information

4% were looking for an agent

4% were looking for a particular Firm or Franchise

It’s interesting that almost all the static webpages I find, are page after page about the agent’s resume, yet only 4% of consumers are looking for such information. It’s an unfortunate truth that most consumes feel most agents are basically the same. We know that’s not true, but finding a clever way to correct that impression is a challenge for many.

Be Unique!

Statistics are only a guideline. They aren’t always reality, but it’s the best indication of what consumers maybe thinking. Each agent should take this information and work it into their own plan. It’s important to do what works well for you. A lot of practitioners are successful with their blogs, because they have created them and maintain them in a unique manner. That’s what’s working today, tomorrow there will be some new technique that some visionaries will create and adapt.

Whereas it’s good to know information, such as who consumers find you, it’s more important to know where the source is for that information. I’ve provided this information from the NAR Profile of Buyer’s and Sellers 2007. There is a considerable more that could help your business by reading such resources.

While you’re trying to explain to your sellers why you put so much effort into internet marketing, and so little in print media; it’s good to have these exact numbers and resources. This can help save you time and money with informed consumers who will trust a report more than your word.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Chris Griffith

    May 11, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    ….and I read this in between adding listings to a point2 site to syndicate, craigslist and my blog, while watching Private Ryan.

    Excellent advise. Give the consumer what he’s looking for. That’s not that difficult, after all. Right?

  2. Scott P. Rogers

    May 11, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    >> “87% of Brokers (surveyed) feel that servicing smarter and more informed consumers are their largest concern.”

    Hopefully the “concern” just means that it’s “on their mind” — and it’s an indication that Brokers will put the majority of their focus on continuing to be able to offer great information, analysis and insight to these smarter and more informed consumers. How’s that for looking at the half empty glass as half full?

    >> 95% were looking for Properties For Sale

    I believe it! And measurement of consumers’ online behavior supports it. My brokerage’s web site (www.cbfunkhouser.com) sees between 90%-95% of the traffic on the site within the property search areas.

    Matthew — it would be great if you periodically provided some insight and commentary from the buyers & sellers report — it has some great information that I don’t go back to look at often enough!

  3. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    May 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    You have made some good points. I believe you too. You have to have info and yet have your own style. Most of my cleints now come from my site so something must be working. its a lot of work to blog and maintain an updated site and that is why you do not have the competition that you would think.

  4. Barry Cunningham

    May 11, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Maybe my message gets diluted by angry comments but as I mentioned to you about RE Trends..it’s an amzing book and has so much data you are correct..it should be mandatory reading.

  5. Susan Hilton - Texas Aggie Realtor

    May 11, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Great advice! Working on posting a great deal more information about the area and our listings!

    Susan Hilton – Realtor & Sales Trainer for Century 21 Beal, Inc. #1 in Real Estate in Bryan and College Station Home Sales – Bryan College Station Real Estate & Community Blog

  6. Mack in Atlanta

    May 12, 2008 at 7:01 am

    You make a very important point that agents should quit designing their sites around me, me, me and start providing unique relevant information that addresses the site visitor’s needs.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    May 12, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

    Barry, I want to say that it seems that I was able to make the same point you did, without the angry comments to get our readers to the same conclusion. I know I’ve failed in the past, but I am trying to work on delivery…

  8. ines

    May 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

    The informed consumer is our best client – finding that “perfect formula” for what works in your blog and to provide information that is useful to your audience is not easy, but it’s extremely powerful once you achieve it.

  9. Jacinda

    May 12, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I’d have to say the numbers by NAR are off. How are pics more useful than a virtual tour? Pics can be taken at certain angles to manipulate the room/area, which is great for sellers, but bad for people looking for something because they can show up, realize it’s really different, and be mad that they wasted their time. It’s tough to manipulate a virtual tour like that.

    I also think floor plans should definitely be up there. They’re incredibly useful when it comes to more limited spaces like condos and townhouses.

  10. Scott P. Rogers

    May 12, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Jacinda — I have to agree with the survey respondents that indicated that photos were the most useful. Multiple photos can be much more helpful than a virtual tour — though, I use both for marketing my listings. If an agent is going to manipulate the photo angles, they’ll manipulate the virtual tour too. And I DEFINITELY agree the floor plans should be included — even on single family homes, they are VERY helpful!

  11. Mike Taylor

    May 13, 2008 at 5:59 am

    I love it when other agents don’t get it and design a site around how great they are. That means buyers will come to my site and find listings and hopefully stay.

    The bar has been raised on what consumers expect out of a real estate website nowadays and your site doesn’t provide them what they want immediately you stand no chance.

  12. Ken Smith

    May 13, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    The top item on the list should be accurate information.

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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