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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.

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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  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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Business Marketing

What entreprenuers can learn about branding from trendy startups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) What’s the secret of focused startup branding, and how can you apply it to large enterprises?



A set of wine from Craft Hugo, showing off pleasing branding in labels.

Think of your favorite brand. Is it the product they offer or the branding that you love? Exactly – brand ethos reigns supreme, especially with those trendy, aesthetically-pleasing startups (I never thought Glossier had good makeup, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t visit their website once or twice a month).

So let’s break it down.

Co-founder of Red Antler – a company that assists startups in creating successful branding – Emily Heyward believes in a few branding truths.

Firstly, you have to make sure not to market your brand as a single product or experience. Doing so, she says, will pigeonhole you and thus truncate your ability to expand and offer new products and services (she gives MailChimp, known almost exclusively for email marketing, as an example).

What Heyward does say to do is instead market an idea. For example, the brand Casper (one of Antler’s clients) markets itself as a sleep company instead of a mattress company. By doing this, they kept the door open to eventually offer other products, like pillows and bedding.

Heyward states that this “power of focus” is a way to survive – with countless other startups offering the same product or service, you have to position your company as offering something beyond the product. Provide a problem your customer didn’t know they had and offer an innovative solution through your product.

Ever used Slack, the app-based messenger? There were other messengers out there, so focus of Slack’s branding is that regular messaging is boring and that their app makes it more fun. And customers eat it up.

How can this logic apply to mid-to-large enterprises? How can you focus on one specific thing?

Again, placing emphasis on brand over products is essential – what is it about what you offer that makes your customers’ lives better? It’s more cerebral than material. You’re selling a better life.

Another thing to remember is that customers are intrigued by the idea of new experiences, even if the product or service being offered is itself not new. Try not to use dated language that’s colored by a customers’ preexisting feelings. Instead, find an exciting alternative – chat solutions are desperately trying move away from the word “chat”, which can bring to mind an annoying, tedious process, even though that is in fact what they offer.

Broadening the idea of focused brand ethos to a large company can be difficult. By following these tips and tricks from startups, your company can develop a successful brand ethos that extends beyond your best product or service.

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Business Marketing

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.



Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.



Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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