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Who Owns You?


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 “” or how about “” or even your “” 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 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.

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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. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  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 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 – 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… 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”…… you have a magic formula to share? or are you just playing devil’s advocate?

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