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Dawn of a New Era

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I have some hero worship going on with a variety of marketing types, including Aaron Strout, mentioned in a previous post.

Another marketer I respect, David Armano, recently published “Marketing In A Post-Consumer Era“, which I found very compelling.  With his permission, I’ve included quotes from David, along with his famous graphics, and offered my point of view on how it applies to the real estate industry.  [Fingers crossed I don’t disappoint him].

Once upon a time …

Check David’s diagram on Pre-Consumer attitudes below.  What I keyed in on is the “modest consumption” behavior.  At one time people bought a home with intent to one day host a Mortgage Burning Party.  It was where they would raise family, retire, enjoy their twilight then leave the house as a legacy for their children.  And, the thought of taking a Second Mortgage was considered a desperate act [clever banks would later rebrand 2nds as HELOCs – “a wise use of equity” – but, I digress].

A good example of this behavior is my father – who has had the same car for years.  He balks at my suggestions to replace it, as “it runs just fine”.  After all, he’s retired, so why would he spend money on a car, when he can travel?  He simply buys what he needs.     

We like the boom!

Now, let’s consider the Consumer Era or recent “boom” years created by easy access to credit, and how this applies to real estate.  I remember a statistic that people lived in their homes an average of 5 years [will be interesting to re-measure that trend in 2012].  Granted, we are a more transient society than in previous generations – jobs change, lives change, etc.  But, in essence real estate during these years was almost considered disposable, as it was an easy-to-get asset which could be easily replaced.

Credit lines have ensured that we can purchase beyond our means and advertising has had years to perfect its craft making us believe that we don’t want the latest and greatest product-but that we actually NEED it.” – David Armano

When I read David’s quote, I thought of the McMansions “owned” by 30 year olds.  I mean, do two people “need” 15,000 square feet and an 8 car garage?

Bye bye bling

Then it all came crashing down.  Hard.  The heartbreaking perfect storm of financial markets collapsing has people making big changes, and realigning priorities.  First, we cut back out of necessity.  Now it seems attitudes have aligned with our new more modest lifestyle. 

[Sidebar: was this more simplistic set of values lying dormant deep down inside, or do we feel the need to justify a forced shift in lifestyle by making it the social norm?]   

As a result, there is almost a revolution against excess.  Even fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has proclaimed “Bling is Dead”.

Now what?

According to David, people are searching for more meaning and relevance in their lives.  With that in mind, they may be reconsidering what they really “need” when buying a home.  Not to mention the lack of confidence that real estate is a sound investment.  I believe we will see the latter dissipate over the next 18 months, but the shift in values may remain long-term.  

Is everything old new again?

Yes.  And, no.  In this Post-Consumer Era, there are great similarities: primarily our moderate consumption and our re-use of goods – although these days re-use is fueled by the green movement as much as moderation.

The future of business will be simple. Providing better products, better experiences and providing indisputable value through things like services will get the right people saying the right things about you.” – David Armano

As it relates to you, how will you provide a better experience and be of more value?  How will you position homes to prospective buyers?  Consumers are empowered with more information than ever – not all of it accurate – and have networks of strangers that they trust more than advertising and marketing campaigns.  How will you differentiate yourself?

 

Graphics courtesy of David Armano

Photo Credit

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Ken Brand

    April 16, 2009 at 6:45 am

    This slapped my attention. I’m going to save this, share this, read and read this. I’m with you…it’s a new era.

    Like some big brained person said, don’t remember who, “It’s the strongest, fastest or best looking who survive, it’s the most adaptable.”

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Cal Carter

    April 16, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Nice article and graphics!

    What amazes me is that the “Consumer Era” got so out of hand and was paid for by HELOCS that were made possible by artificial home equity spikes that were made possible by poor lending standards and the Fed pushing cheap money. The end result should have been anticipated!

  3. Missy Caulk

    April 16, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I do agree everyone is thinking more conservatively all the way around. Now in saying that I still see many buyers wanting the big house, the granite.

    However, the attitude is changing in many area’s.

  4. Rob Hahn

    April 16, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Hey Brandie –

    Great and interesting post. I happen to think David Armano is dead wrong on this, and conducts what amounts to wishful thinking rather than actual analysis, but… reasonable folks can differ.

    I for one will believe that “backlash against bling” is real when the sales of the iPhone drops. (See this chart). Unless Armano is prepared to argue that people NEED the iPhone….

    -rsh

  5. Brandie Young

    April 16, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Ken – Thanks! Coming from you that means so much.

    Missy – it will be interesting to see the differences in attitudes over the next 18 months … I’m sure we will have plenty of discussion!

    Rob!! – My friend … is this our first fight? (Kidding.) You raise a good point re: iPhone. I just don’t know that people see an iPhone as bling – but rather a more pricey necessity (iPhone over freebie from service provider). That can be justified.
    Let’s consider recent outcry over executive salaries and bonuses and talks of the Government enforcing caps (not talking AIG here). I think there is an attitude shift toward excess, but will agree it is selective. I mean, outrage over salaries … but not at celebrities driving the Bentley du jour …

  6. Rob Hahn

    April 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    We could never have a fight, for my love for you runs mountain high and river deep.

    We could have intellectual disagreements, of course, and I guess I just don’t buy the argument that iPhone is not seen as bling. That Apple “connects with consumers” in some different way than “Buy Buy Buy” — as per David’s thesis.

    Apple is one of the most brilliant advertisers in the world, because Steve Jobs knows how to do presentations. The recent iTouch ads showing video games… what is that if not “buy bling buy” appeals?

    Plus, bling is always justified by the buyer. 🙂

    BTW, I’m writing a blogpost in response as well. 🙂

    -rsh

  7. Sharon Trombly

    April 16, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Brandie, in your post you posed the question; “As it relates to you, how will you provide a better experience and be of more value?”

    I look forward to reading the upcoming responses to that question.

    Primarily, I would like to know if, as a professional real estate advisor, you (dear readers) still feel the need to do ALL your administrative tasks yourself?

    Why not give your clients the “better experience” and “more value”? Stick to your core competency and outsource the rest of it.

    Imagine the experience you could create for your clients if you had more time. Imagine the energy and time you could put into prospecting online, or off.

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Opinion Editorials

How to crush your next remote job interview

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Working remotely is becoming more and more popular. Learn how to excel during a remote job interview.

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As the career landscape continues to change, so does the way in which we interview. With an increase in remote workers, there is also an increase in video interviews.

What immediately comes to mind for me was three years ago when I had a video interview with the fabulous COO of The American Genius. Since the company is based out of Austin, and I’m in Chicago, we had a video chat to see if I’d be a good fit for the company.

While it took some of the pressure off being able to be in my own home for the interview, there was definitely the con of…being in my own home for the interview. Fear of any noise or interruption posed as a slight distraction.

Like an in person interview, there are some pressures that go along with a video interview. The main one being that you need to sell yourself as an extremely responsible individual who can handle the freedoms and rigors of remote work.

Employers are looking for accountability in their remote workers. You must be able to execute your tasks in with a heightened amount of self-discipline.

This can be done through use of time trackers and proactive reporting. Keeping track of each task you do, and the time spent doing it, will provide something tangible for your employer. Be sure to explain during the interview that this is something you will provide to the employer.

Next, because there is a change in environment, and arguably a change in responsibility level, the questions asked during the interview may be different from your standard interview.

A few questions that may pop up to keep in mind: what hours will you be working? What is your remote experience like? Is this something you’re seeking for supplemental work, or trying to do full-time? What is your home workspace like? What tools do you use to keep yourself on task? What is your preferred method of payment?

In turn, there are some questions you should be prepared to ask, as in any other interview. For example: What would a typical day look like if we were working together in-house? Do you offer advancement opportunities? How many of your team members work remotely and how do we all stay in contact?

Working remotely can be a whole different beast in terms of proving yourself to your employer. Having yourself fully prepared for an interview can help start you off on the right foot.

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Opinion Editorials

9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work

(OPINION EDITORIALS) With more and more people joining the LGBTQIA+ community it’d do one well to think about ways to extend inclusiveness at work.

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LGBTQIA+ people may have won marriage equality in 2015, but this momentous victory didn’t mean that discrimination was over. Queer and LGBTQIA+ identified people still have to deal with discrimination and not being in a work environment that supports their identities.

Workplace inclusivity may sound like the hottest new business jargon term on the block, but it actually just a professional way of making sure that everyone feels like a valued team member at the office. Business psychologists have found when people are happy to go to work, they are 12 percent more productive.

Making your business environment a supportive one for the queer community means you’re respecting employees and improving their workplace experience.

Here’s nine ways you can make your workplace more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ people.

1) Learn the basics.
If you’re wanting to make your workplace more open to LGBTQIA+ people, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Firstly, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual and the plus encompassing other identities not named; there are many variants on the acronym. Sexual orientations (like lesbian, gay, bisexual) are not the same as gender identities.

Transgender means that that person “seeks to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.” Cisgender means a person identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. If you need a more comprehensive rundown about sexual orientation, gender identity, and the like, visit the GLAAD reference guide.

2) Stop using the word “gay” as an insult.
Or insinuating people you don’t like are “gay” together. This is the most basic thing that can be done for workplace inclusivity regarding the queer community. Anything that actively says that LGBTQIA+ people are “lesser” than their straight counterparts can hurt the queer people on your team and make them not feel welcome. It’s not cool.

3) Don’t make jokes that involve the LGBTQIA+ community as a punchline.
It’s not cute to make a “funny quip” about pronouns or to call someone a lesbian because of their outfit. This kind of language makes people feel unwanted in the workplace, but many won’t be able to speak up due to the lack of protections about LGBTQIA+ identities in anti-discrimination statutes. So stop it.

4) Support your colleagues.
If you’re in a situation and hear negative or inappropriate talk regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, stick up for your co-workers. Even if they’re not there, by simply expressing that what was said or done was inappropriate, you’re helping make your workplace more inclusive.

5) Avoid the super probing questions.
It’s okay to talk relationships and life with coworkers, but it can cross a line. If you have a transgender colleague, it’s never going to be appropriate to pry about their choices regarding their gender identity, especially since these questions revolve around their body.

If you have a colleague who has a differing sexual orientation than yours, questions about “how sex works” or any invasive relationship question (“are you the bride or the groom”) is going to hurt the welcomeness of your office space. Just don’t do it.

6) Written pronoun clarity is for everyone!
One thing that many LGBTQIA+ people may do is add their pronouns to their business card, email signature, or name badge for clarity. If you’re cisgender, adding your pronouns to these things can offer support and normalize this practice for the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only does it make sure that you are addressed correctly, you’re validating the fact that it’s an important business practice for everyone to follow.

7) Tokens are for board games, not for people.
LGBTQIA+ people are often proud of who they are and for overcoming adversity regarding their identity. However, it’s never ever going to be okay to just reduce them to the token “transgender colleague” or the “bisexual guy.”

Queer people do not exist to earn you a pat on the back for being inclusive, nor do they exist to give the final word on marketing campaigns for “their demographic.” They’re people just like you who have unique perspectives and feelings. Don’t reduce them just to a token.

8) Bathroom usage is about the person using the bathroom, not you.
An individual will make the choice of what bathroom to use, it does not need commentary. If you feel like they “don’t belong” in the bathroom you’re in due to their gender presentation, don’t worry about it and move on. They made the right choice for them.

An easy way to make restroom worries go away is creating gender neutral restrooms. Not only can they shorten lines, they can offer support for transgender, nonbinary, or other LGBTQIA+ people who just need to go as much as you do.

9) Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone will slip up during their journey to make their workplace more inclusive. If you didn’t use the correct pronouns for your non-binary colleague or misgender someone during a presentation, apologize to them, correct yourself, and do better next time. The worst thing to do is if someone corrects you is for you to shut down or get angry. An open ear and an open heart is the best way to make your work environment supportive for all.

The workplace can be a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ people, or it could be a hurtful one, depending on the specific culture of the institution. But with some easy changes, it can be a space in which queer and LGBTQIA+ people can feel respected and appreciated.

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Opinion Editorials

“Starting a business is easy,” said only one guy ever

(OPNION EDITORIAL) Between following rules, finding funding, and gathering research, no business succeeds without lifting a finger.

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While browsing business articles this week, I came across this one, “Top 10 Business Ideas You Can Start for Free With Barely Lifting a Finger.” These types of articles make me mad. I can’t think of many successful freelancers or entrepreneurs who don’t put in hours of blood, sweat and tears to get a business going.

The author of the article is Murray Newlands, a “VIP Contributor.” Essentially, he’s a freelancer because he also contributes to Forbes, HuffPro and others. He’s the founder of ChattyPeople.com, which is important, because it’s the first business idea he promotes in the article.

But when I pull up his other articles on Entrepreneur.com, I see others like “How to Get Famous and Make Money on YouTube,” “Win Like A Targaryen: 10 Businesses You Can Start for Free,” and “10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free.”

I seriously cannot believe that Entrepreneur.com keeps paying for the same ideas over and over.

The business ideas that are suggested are pretty varied. One suggestion is to offer online classes. I wonder if Newlands considered how long it takes to put together a worthy curriculum and how much effort goes into marketing said course.

Then, you have to work out the bugs, because users will have problems. How do you keep someone from stealing your work? What happens when you have a dispute?

Newlands suggests that you could start a blog. It’s pretty competitive these days. The most successful bloggers are ones that really work on their blog, every day. The bloggers have a brand, offer relevant content and are ethical in how they get traffic.

Think it’s easy? Better try again.

I could go on. Every idea he puts up there is a decent idea, but if he thinks it will increase your bottom line without a lot of hard work and effort, he’s delusional.

Today’s entrepreneurs need a plan. They need to work that plan, rethink it and keep working. They have to worry about liability, marketing and keeping up with technologies.

Being an entrepreneur is rewarding, but it’s hard work. It is incredibly inappropriate and grossly negligent to encourage someone to risk everything they have and are on the premise of not lifting a finger.

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