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Why?

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The Buzz.

For the better part of a year now, the RE.net (I loathe that name, btw) has been all abuzz over this concept termed “web2.0.” On the other hand, for the better part of the same year, the underlying question has remained- why? Why am I blogging, what is the point of social media- why?Blogging, and other social media such as video, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin have all been pressing in the face of those not only in real estate, but in all facets of business today- the “Why?” still remains as making the connection seems fruitless, but yet many in our profession have realized the short term sweet success of a new contact here and there, and a client once or twice, while others have tapped in to a longterm, more lucrative success story of using such media- but even then, many times it may appear it’s sheer luck, or is it? You beg the question, “Why?” are they successful?

Then & Now.

In real estate, for 100 years agents have been spoon-fed basic fundamentals of marketing and advertising. Few have questioned it because it seems to have worked for years, regardless of its corny nature. The simple, cookie-cutter approach to drawing business, although highly priced, seems to have an R.O.I. that is tangible to some degree, so it feels okay to get and stay on board until it doesn’t and suddenly we all ask the same question- “Why?”


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Well, maybe you feel the need to debate the merits of marketing and advertising, understanding generational marketing, the study of who responds to what and why, but those in the know do not. Those that spoon fed you that corny 1.0 marketing in the past cannot spoon feed you what is apparent today. Why? Because its not 100 years old. The fact is, it’s very young, and so is the demographic that built and designed it. It is that organic reality that leaves many to appear naive in balking it as the reality of this new emergence of consumer enters the marketplace with an entirely new perspective on how they wished to be reached, educated, and yes, sold.

Tomato versus Tomato.

I remember a spelling bee where I had to learn to spell ‘influenza’ and looking at my mother and asking why she called it the ‘flu.’ Maybe it was easier to spell, maybe folks were lazy, or maybe that was just the term most would recognize. I still call it the flu today, but am well aware of the actual defined medical term of the flu. I am also aware of the varied symptoms of having the flu, some may experience pain behind the eyes, others may not, but the underlying illness remains, the flu- you just don’t get hung up in the details, you simply drink lots of fluids, regulate the fever as best you can, sleep as much as possible and see a physician. One could add a new symptom to the flu and suddenly you have a new strain- physicians and the like will adapt treatments but few would debate the merits of whether you call it the flu or influenza.


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Think Different.

Folks may very well believe what they do in relation to real estate marketing is in fact marketing and advertising, but few really understand the key elements of even an actual post card. The color blue that was once popular in the 1990s is no longer the color that is modern today, but most actually do not get that it doesn’t really matter the shade of blue, but the color blue itself is the relevant factor- blue takes you off guard, relaxes you, calms you. If your goal is to excite the A.D.D side of a buyer and build enthusiasm and excitement over a product and demand action of the reader, red is maybe your answer. In fact, the psychology of color to some would seem so under the radar and so 1.0, but a truth is that color is the point and this fact will remain. All the words on a postcard matter not if you’ve not drawn the reader- it is the impact of the presentation and capturing the attention of the consumer to even get them to read the words on the card that are the goal. Some may call it over thinking something, but that’s because you’ve never thought to think about why 1.0 worked in the first place- that’s okay because you’ve been spoon fed by folks paid to do the thinking for you.


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Transcend.

Blending your approach to transcend is the step after understanding who you’re blending for. Boomers, X’ers, or millennials all have the same goal in mind when setting out to buy a home. The Why? factor is reaching a varied audience and still being successful in the delivery of your message. Using social media isn’t the the end, it’s another means to the sames ends. However, knowing who is in the social stream will simply tell you how to tailor your message in a way that has meaning to those in the stream. Grabbing their attention, holding them in place, while guiding them to a powerful landing statement which is your product.

Nuance.

Whether you get it or not we’re going to continue deeper and deeper into how we see other companies outside of real estate are using social methods of marketing and advertising and relate it back to our own profession. Anyone that reads me knows I do not buy into one method or the other, I actually prefer to blend them because I believe today that what is attractive to Generation Why? is equally attractive for different generations for different reasons. The fact is, what is new and fresh transcends all lines eventually if you have a clue where those lines are.

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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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Chris Johnson

    February 14, 2008 at 7:51 am

    I’d tell you that this was an effing great post. But you know that. Already.

    Good ideas., man, good ideas.

  2. Benn Rosales

    February 14, 2008 at 9:41 am

    I’ll take that Chris, I’ll take it… thanks for looking out.

  3. Chris Johnson

    February 14, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Yeah yeah. Anyway, it’s a good primer and is among the best content on Realtor Agent Genius.

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Business Marketing

7 Low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses [sponsored]

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.

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The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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Business Marketing

Yelp listings now show companies’ COVID-19 policies

(BUSINESS) Yelp has updated their settings to allow business owners to make their COVID-19 policies public, so consumers are aware in advance.

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Yelp recently added tools to help businesses share their COVID-19 restrictions and policies with consumers, focusing for now on vaccinations. This is the latest in a series of attempts to combat misinformation and illegitimate reviews plaguing the platform.

Yelp has rolled out two new attributes for businesses to add to their profiles last week.

One option, a tag that reads “Proof of vaccination required,” communicates clearly the need to carry one’s vaccination card (or, presumably, wear a face covering) to gain entry. The other – ”Staff fully vaccinated” – speaks for itself.

These attributes stand to increase customer awareness of the circumstances facing them before visiting a business, thereby cutting down on frustrations – at least in theory.

The general public’s dearth in understanding regarding social distancing protocols and business restrictions certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that different states had different responses to COVID-19 – and that’s not even taking into account the microcosmic changes cities found themselves making.

For example, while the state of New York may not require proof of vaccinations to enter restaurants, New York City certainly does.

Rumors are that San Francisco may be implementing similar legislation, positing that other cities may very well go in the same direction.

To compound on this lack of uniform response, small businesses are finding themselves having to make their own policies as the cities around them ease up on restrictions. It isn’t out of the norm for a restaurant staffed by at-risk employees to ask customers to wear masks, so as Delta surges in places with low vaccination rates, it isn’t terribly surprising that those same establishments would ask to see proof of vaccination.

Yelp looks to make this process as transparent as possible with their profile attributes, but they’re aware that there was a general uptick in frustrated customers leaving poor reviews for restaurants that required masking or other social distancing actions.

“Yelp says the practice [of review bombing] has gotten worse in recent months,” reports TechCrunch.

In response, Yelp will be employing both automated and human moderation measures to ensure that businesses aren’t unfairly targeted for their protocols. This is actually something the company did after adding the “Black-owned” attribute (and subsequent identity attributes) last summer as well.

If you’re interested in adding either of the new attributes to your business profile, you can find them on the “Yelp for Business” page.

As the pandemic continues to develop, we may see additional COVID-19 attributes from Yelp.

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Business Marketing

Society has changed – no one wants help in a store anymore

(CUSTOMER SERVICE) Times are changing in the retail environment: a once customer-service driven experience is evolving into a minimalistic customer service approach.

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Once upon a time, good retail management meant good customer service skills – asking customers if they needed assistance, helping them decide what looked best on them, and politely stalking customers to insure a sale was completed.

As technology evolves and become more prevalent and pervasive in our lives, these skills are no longer needed or wanted. A new study suggest that shoppers want to be left alone while browsing in stores, rather than be stalked, questioned, and coaxed into buying items they may not explicitly want due to persistent pressure from sales associates.

An HRC survey found that a whopping 95% of shoppers would prefer to be left completely alone while navigating the retail environment, rather than shopping under a constant barrage of questions: “Can I help you find anything?” “How are you today?” “What brought you in?” and the seemingly endless stream of inquiries, not to mention the sales pressure from those employees working on commission, can simply be too much for consumers looking to relax, browse in peace, or simply get in and out of a store quickly.

While the greater majority of shoppers may prefer to be left alone, this should not come as too much of a surprise, considering how much technology has supplemented the shopping experience. With enhanced apps and self-checkout lines it’s not hard to understand why most shoppers prefer to browse solo.

Smartphones have given us the ability to check prices, order goods, and check stock all without interacting with another human.

For many shoppers, this is an efficient way to save both time and money while shopping. For other shoppers, like myself, smartphones offer another way to shop without triggering my anxiety. Asking for help, or a price is nearly impossible – I’d rather go without an item than have to ask someone for help.

Sounds ridiculous? Believe me, it feels ridiculous too, but nevertheless, having alternative ways to shop without interacting, is a blessing for many people, for a variety of reasons.

What does this mean for stores? It’s time to take another look at your apps and/or mobile presence (and in-store wifi availability). Since customers are shying away from human interaction, is your app allowing people to scan for prices? Can your customers check stock and order things online to be picked up in store? Can customers use your app to enhance their shopping experience in-store? If not, you may lose customers to stores that offer these enhanced apps.

Times are changing.

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