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Who Owns You?

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Great Question- Wrong Answer

A couple of thoughts on common mistakes I see with independent agents around the country when it comes to branding and control of that brand:

I often wonder what so-called Google juice is worth. It stands to reason that we all want to be the search engine result, but when it boils down to it, who or what is the result? I realize that we all must begin somewhere, but in order for you to understand my thought process we must travel back in time…

What’s a domain name?

We’ve all thought it at least once, maybe five times that we should have purchased a really cool domain name back when the craze hit. Instead, many of us really had no access or crystal ball to really see the value in owning “sex.com” or how about “realestate.com” or even your “ownname.com.” Instead, we let the the folks in the know do the domain buying and we now see these common household words fast becoming traded assets. Yes, assets. When a domain can draw as much as $3million at auction, it makes you realize just how valuable a brand name can be. Yet we sit here in Part II of the great rush to snatch up valuable names not realizing the potential value of names- even our own.

What’s My Point?

We didn’t know what we didn’t know back then, especially that google.com would become what it has, but today we have a reference as to what can happen with these latest and greatest *.coms out there. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and others are fast reaching legendary status, yet we fail to realize that our brand is there for the taking at no price. Will we someday in the future say things like “twitter juice?” One must wonder.

I would also bring front and center the nasty implications we face by allowing our names to be used by media (wannabe) giants at no cost to them. Aren’t we in fact their juice? Aren’t you the draw now on sites like Active Rain, Inman News, Zillow, or even Trulia in long tail search? I wonder just how valuable we see our own names, or even that we’re owned by someone else and create cash income for that someone else for a once in a thousand chance of at least one or two referrals a year? Therein lies the difficulty in assessing the value of services that offer to promote you by using your own name.

The Answer…

Own your name (and intellectual property) in every way possible.  Why not own the actual results of the long tail search?  Take pause- every decision where your name and intellectual property is concerned should be considered a branding decision.

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. Bob Schenkenberger

    May 5, 2008 at 10:31 am

    This has been the biggest area of concern for me as I have jumped into the RE.net/Web2.0 world. On one hand the exposure, not only for myself, but for my clients property listings, is very valuable. On the other hand, There is something that doesn’t sit well with me when these sites aggregate our information and content, do very little else, and make millions.

    Right or wrong, I’ve made a business decision to give very little to the aggregators (Active Rain, Trulia, Homegain, et al) in the form of my content. Rather, I will promote my listings on these sites, and use them as a means to drive traffic to my brand via excerpts and headlines.

  2. Glenn fm Naples

    May 5, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Benn – good post and like that you explained in a very clear manner that our intellectual property when posted on other sites does not truly help with our own branding, after all, isn’t branding ourselves the ultimate goal for us as independent contractors?

    Bob – your experience and thought process is something that many of us have gone through. Imagine what would happen if all the content from individuals were eliminated from some of those sites or contributions not made?

  3. Mariana

    May 5, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Great … one more thing to worry about.

    However, I do not know HOW to avoid the BIGNAMES from getting business because of me without spending uberamounts of time dealing with it.

  4. Vicki Moore

    May 5, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Huh. I have to think about that some more.

  5. Cyndee Haydon

    May 5, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Ben – I like the way you think! Glad I own my name.com – for all the reasons you named and because….because you’re right I don’t know what the future holds.

  6. Bob

    May 5, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    However, I do not know HOW to avoid the BIGNAMES from getting business because of me without spending uberamounts of time dealing with it.

    Doesn’t require much time. Simply

    1. Don’t give them links
    2. Don’t use their widgets that give them links
    3. Don’t provide them content that should be on your own site. With AR, write a teaser opening line and then link to the rest of the content on your own site. If you have to have the points, then write just enough to get the points
    4. Don’t give them duplicate content. Writing the same post on one site, then publishing it on your own creates a duplicate content concern, unless your site is more of an authority than theirs.

    Let them send you traffic with listings if you wish, but ask if it really matters. With IDX, it’s a safe bet most buyers find inventory on an agent or company web site.

    Big brokers use them for lead generation and then sell the leads to their agents. The independent contractor does all the work and the rest of the world tries to take a piece of the pie. The next time a 3rd party hand reaches across the table to take the food off your plate, stick them with a fork.
    .

  7. ines

    May 5, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    OK – this is one I have thought about long and hard and don’t know what the answer is. When I used to spend a lot of money with print ads I know it was about “perception” and wouldn’t really get the business directly from the ad but people everywhere would mention they saw me …..hence recognition.

    Then those ads became more and more expensive because people like me were feeding them….I stopped cold turkey and I was ready for the results.

    Now when you think of the Zillows and Trulias and Active Rains…..is it also about perception? If the consumer is being fed to visit those sites, what happens when you are not there? As easy as it may be to make a conscious decision to avoid them, it may not be the best web2.0 strategy.

    There has to be a happy medium to feed your BRAND (and you know I’m all about branding) and be “perceived”……..do you have a magic formula to share? or are you just playing devil’s advocate?

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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