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You Look… Familiar…

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You know that look you catch, when you are standing in line at the grocery store, or at the bank. The head cocked to one side, looking at you like they want to say something. And when they do, it’s something along the lines of “You’re that Realtor, aren’t you?”

Smile and Wave, Boys, Smile and Wave

Priceless. Face recognition, name recognition, brand recognition. It’s more than the ad in the newspaper with your face in it. It’s more than the oversized, glossy postcard with your name, face, and website address on it. It’s more than the long tail search about your town’s weekly farmers market that caused him to trip over your blog. It’s that, plus that, plus that, plus a million other little things that you can’t measure.

Like a Choreographed Dance

That’s the most infuriating thing about good public relations and marketing: it’s non-quantifiable at best. You can’t put your finger exactly on what is going to stick in a consumer’s mind. Frequently it takes a ton of little things, which is why the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” theory particularly applies. I’ll be the first person to tell you (and back it up with actual transactions) that internet marketing is a very profitable way to brig in clients. I’ll also point out that my website traffic typically doubles the day after I run a color ad in the local paper. And, that I have great success getting people to register on my static website using postcard mailers with individual registration codes. The quarterly market update letters I send out also include an invitation to visit and participate in my blog.

During a slower market, it’s a great time to take a bird’s eye view of your marketing efforts and see where you are weak and where you are strong. How are you blending ‘traditional’ marketing methods with your web 2.0 efforts?

Image Credit

Heather is a Realtor with Century 21 Redwood Realty in Ashburn, Virginia. She's also the 2008 VARBuzz Blog Brawl Champion, mom to four fantastic kids, and the wife of a golf professional. If she had free time, she'd probably read a good book or play golf. You can find her on twitter, @hthrflynn, or writing on her blog, LoCoMusings.com.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Linsey

    December 2, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Heather – when you run an ad in your local paper, what is the content of the ad? I’m curious about what you’re finding that successfully drives traffic via print advertising (newspapers, postcards). Is it listing information, free offer, content?

    I’ve been so internet focused lately and I’m just reviewing my marketing plans for the coming year. Good reminder to review ALL our marketing.

  2. Elaine Reese

    December 2, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I frequently get “those looks” as well at the grocery or gas pump. It’s pretty cool!

  3. Missy Caulk

    December 2, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    …gosh Heather I haven’t done any print ads in so long. Like Linsey, what do you do to drive them there?

  4. Dave Turnquist

    December 2, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    At least once a week someone in town approaches me in line somewhere and says “I shop with you every week” and then they laugh. The reason, my face is on the front and back of every shopping cart in the 1 and only grocery store in La Porte. Thousands of people recognize me and feel like they know me, just from my face on the shopping carts ad.

  5. Ginger Wilcox

    December 3, 2008 at 11:09 am

    It IS very hard to quantify the results of our marketing sometimes. From my experience, people hire me because of multiple touch points. They may have had a referral from a friend, they saw an ad in a magazine, they checked out my blog and they saw me at the park. Everyone knows 20 different Realtors, but it is easy to forget what people do. The more visible I am in lots of different areas, the more phone calls I seem to receive.

  6. John Wake

    December 8, 2008 at 1:34 am

    “I have great success getting people to register on my static website using postcard mailers with individual registration codes.”

    That’s new! Can you explain how it works.

  7. Fred Glick

    November 14, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Make sure your picture is current, though.

    There is nothing worse that a 40 year old, previously photoshopped picture in an ad and a 40 year older, un-photoshopped real person.

  8. David Pylyp

    November 14, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Thats Great!

    business card, letterhead, daily newspaper advertising all had different deadlines.
    we delivered a Photo t be included with the artwork

    because of different ordering and stock on hand we happen to have different (years) generations on our marketing material.

    Thats a recent photo and I’m sticking with that story. My forehead is just umm larger.

    Thanks for the laughs!

    David Pylyp
    Play Work and Living in Toronto

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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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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