Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Life in the sidebar: how many people are missing the point of the web

Running a business like a boss isn’t easy, but it may be your only choice – unless you care less about being an authority and more about your face appearing in peoples’ sidebars.

Published

on

The real world

Life was so much easier as a real estate agent working under the guidance of an established local brand.

Business flowed in good times and in bad. I gave absolutely zero thought as to where it came from. I just did my thing. Helping people build, buy, sell, or lease real estate.

Clearly the company I worked for was generating business somehow. They have a website. They have signs. They are well known in the community. People called them about “stuff” all the time. They are trusted. They have a robust professional network.

We didn’t pay for any online advertising in the sidebar, and to be honest, the IDX section of the site never worked (and still doesn’t). They only display their own listings, which are manually uploaded. No blog at all.

If I was first introduced to this company today I would totally flip. How the hell did they stay in business if content is king and listings are the king’s gold? They’d surely have to be out of business by now, right?

Come on, you know the answer. Of course not. They are doing just fine.

They are a wonderful case study on what works. Superior service. Local context. Rinse and repeat.

Landing on the moon

Real estate agents and brokers are bombarded with so much information and advertising opportunities to generate “leads.” I’m not the first guy to think the term “leads” stinks. This is a people business. Stop looking at your potential clients as digital signatures, IP addresses, and Google Analytics metrics.

Website optimization. Blogs. Third party advertising opportunities on real estate search engine sites. Sure, they are “good” right? The opportunity to advertise your service to people who are “searching” specifically for what you specialize in? Who can argue with that?

I can. The feel good pitch, “If you close just one deal with this (product, service, advertising opportunity) it will more than pay for itself,” just doesn’t work for me. The pitch is weak on its own merit.

We’ve grown sloppy as a collective with our marketing, advertising, and digital strategies. Do you really think you are providing value by aggregating auto-populated blog posts on your site? You think people can’t smell canned email responses and “drip” (another term that needs to die) campaigns? Still think people want to “register” on your god-awful ugly website? Think again friend.

The line in the sand

Draw one right now. Say it with me: “I refuse to run my business like a carnival sideshow.” Come back down from the moon right this instant and stay behind that line in the sand and start building your castle.

Real estate. Housing. Moving. We have a unique opportunity to work with people in a meaningful way in which almost no other industry offers. My old firm had it right all along.

Their network reached out to them the moment they had a housing need. Not because they were the creepy guys in the sidebar advertisement on a website, but because they actually had authority. Not the fake kind of authority that SEO and pay per click offer, but real authority – in hearts and minds.

The show will go on

How can we take what we learned on the moon and apply it to our life here, in the real world?

The web does matter. Just not in the way you think it does. And not in the way it has been sold to you either. Start building powerful digital experiences for your audience. I’m not here to sell you on blogging, or video, or IDX, or Pinterest. That’s not what this is about. But it is about putting your flag in the ground and staking claim on your digital stronghold, whatever it may be…it needs to be yours and it needs to resonate with your users.

Make the digital experience match the real world experience. My old firm is missing out. No doubt in my mind. Imagine if they could translate their value from the real world into the digital world. If they optimized their assets.

You will need help. Work with people who want to empower you and not with people who want to leverage you.

Run your business like a boss

Run your business like a boss. Get organized. Measure smartly. Remove friction from all of your processes. Start treating real estate like the intricate business that it is. Spend time developing and analyzing marketing, processes, and experiences that make sense and translate into higher profit margins.

It might be expensive to build and protect this castle in the sand. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it’s your only choice. Stop letting consumers find you in the weird creepy corners of the internet. Be the local authority and fly your flag high. Deliver superior service. Maintain local context. Leverage technology. Rinse and repeat.

Or be the creepy guy in the sidebar.

The choice is yours.

Greg is the principal owner of Fischer Real Estate Services, a Fort Worth firm specializing in customer value and community enrichment. He's also an MBA at TCU, and a proud member of the Naval Reserves. In his spare time - he sleeps.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. annarborrealtor

    October 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Welcome to AG Greg!

    • Greg Fischer

      November 1, 2012 at 12:44 am

      @annarborrealtor thanks Missy, stoked to be here

  2. kenbrand

    October 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Just say no to Bozo.  I love it and I”m looking forward to hearing more from you Greg.  What do you think about Zillow and foreclosures?  Ahhhh haaaaa haaaa.  Never mind.  Cheers my man, welcome to AG.

    • Greg Fischer

      November 1, 2012 at 12:48 am

      @kenbrand haha Ken. Bozo is a clown, and I hate clowns. Ken – you looking forward to hearing from me is like Sinatra saying he looks forward to hearing Justin Bieber sing. I will do my best to bring my best, thank you for laying the groundwork.
       
      Zillow and foreclosures! You want my thoughts? Free thoughts with the purchase of a home in Fort Worth ($1 million minimum)

  3. ericaramus

    October 31, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Great first editorial on AG Greg! Keep them coming… I am looking forward to reading your posts.

    • Greg Fischer

      November 1, 2012 at 12:50 am

      @ericaramus Erica! Thanks for stopping by. More to come.

  4. karriflatla

    November 1, 2012 at 1:30 am

    I’ve always said: when people don’t know any better … they turn to the Internet and do really bad things.
     
    The Realtor Web State of the Union is in a bad way I’m afraid.
     
    It *should* be sorta kinda straightforward how to create compelling, conversational value online, value that compliments the offline promise. But for myriad reasons — including all the nutty marketing “lessons” real estate agents continue to consume — our industry isn’t getting it.
     
    To be fair, much of the small biz world remains in the pitch dark about all of the above. Not just real estate agents. Some are trying to learn and get it figured out. And well, some just don’t wanna. That said, I see/hear about agents doing things OFF-line that make me cringe. So maybe their “web presence” is but an extension of that bizarre and persistent ethos that screams “Love ME! Pick ME! I’m so kewl! ME!”
     
    Great post.

  5. karriflatla

    November 1, 2012 at 1:35 am

    I’ve always said: when people don’t know any better … they turn to the Internet and do really bad things.
     
    The Realtor Web State of the Union is in a bad way I’m afraid.
     
    It *should* be sorta kinda straightforward how to create compelling, conversational value online, value that compliments the offline promise. But for myriad reasons — including all the nutty marketing “lessons” real estate agents continue to consume — our industry isn’t getting it.
     
    To be fair, much of the small biz world remains in the pitch dark about all of the above. Not just real estate agents. Some are trying to learn and get it figured out. And well, some just don’t wanna. That said, I see/hear about agents doing things OFF-line that make me cringe. So maybe their “web presence” is but an extension of that bizarre and persistent ethos that screams “Love ME! Pick ME! I’m so kewl! ME!”
     
    Great post.

    • Greg Fischer

      November 1, 2012 at 10:41 am

      @karriflatla Thanks for reading Karri. Its not an easy world to navigate. I have met a lot of people this year who are more gracious with their expertise and help. Its easy to spot them because they dont have a sales pitch tied to their conversation. Love the end of your comment by the way. Very kewl of you to stop by

      • karriflatla

        November 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        @Greg Fischer  @karriflatla YES. The keys to the castle are lie within just one word: *conversation* It’s pretty simple when you boil it down to that. Disclaimer: used to be a copywriter/web consultant for years. I had spent much time working to unpack folks’ beliefs about the Internet. Was interesting 😉

      • karriflatla

        November 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        @Greg Fischer YES. The keys to the castle lie within just one word: *conversation* It’s pretty simple when you boil it down to that. Disclaimer: used to be a copywriter/web consultant for years. I spent much time working to unpack folks’ beliefs about the Internet. Was interesting 😉

  6. Joe Loomer

    November 1, 2012 at 10:15 am

    “Work with people who want to empower you and not with people who want to leverage you.”   Amen!
     
    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

    • Greg Fischer

      November 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

      @Joe Loomer Chief, thanks for stopping in. Fly Navy!

  7. CraftBeerAustin

    November 1, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Blogging like a Boss too…  Strong work and I couldn’t agree more.   You can always tell a Real Estate agent on twitter by the number of other people referenced in their tweets, 99% will be all about them and how “great” they or their hot air balloon is.   I look forward to seeing more posts from you Fisch!

    • Greg Fischer

      November 1, 2012 at 10:49 am

      @CraftBeerAustin Bobby, thanks for for checking in man. Heres a good one: A realtor, an attorney, and a SEO step into a hot air balloon…

  8. KendylYoung

    November 1, 2012 at 10:41 am

    The web does matter, just not in the way you think it does.  BINGO.  The idea that the web as “latest magic pill that will create business for me” is a drug we must refuse.  Rather, web as a way to “amplify and  leverage the face to face value I have always brought to my clients”?  Priceless.

    • Greg Fischer

      November 1, 2012 at 10:51 am

      @KendylYoung Thanks for reading Kendyl. Bingo indeed. Though I will say – I dont think anyone would be upset to see your smiling face in their sidebar. -G$

  9. drewmeyers

    November 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    But your approach is harder than putting up crap and delivering no service 🙂

    • Greg Fischer

      November 1, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      @drewmeyers oh yeah, crap and no service is much easier – lots of people do that! Funny thing is guys like you have been playing the same tune for years. Ive listened. Im shipping. Others – not sure, maybe they just read columns for pleasure?

  10. leslieebersole

    November 1, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    @Greg Fischer Pretty darn good.

    • Greg Fischer

      November 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      @leslieebersole Thanks for reading Leslie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Your business model doesn’t have to be a unicorn or a camel to succeed

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It’s not unusual for people to suggest a new business model analogy, but this latest “camel” suggestion isn’t new or helpful.

Published

on

Camels walking in desert, not the best business model.

This year in 2020 I’ve seen a great deal of unique takes on how our system works. From 45 all the way down to children instructing adults on how to wear masks properly. However, after reading this new article published by the Harvard Business Review, I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so out of touch with the rest of the business world. Here’s a brief synopsis on this article on business model.

The author has decided that now of all times it’s drastically important for startups and entrepreneurs to switch their business tactics. Changing from a heavy front-end investment or “startups worth over a billion dollars” colloquially called “Unicorns” to a more financially reserved business model. One he has tried to coin as the “Camel”, using references to the animal’s ability to survive “long periods of time without sustenance, withstand the scorching desert heat, and adapt to extreme variations in climate.”

The author then goes on to outline best practices for this new business plan: “Balance instead of burn”, “Camels are built for the long haul”, “Breadth and depth for resilience”.

Now I will admit that he’s not wrong on his take. It’s a well thought-out adjustment to a very short-term solution. You want to know why I’m sure of that? Because people figured this out decades ago.

The only place that a “Unicorn” system worked was in something like the Silicon Valley software companies. Where people can start with their billions of dollars and expect “blitzscaling” (a rapid building-up tactic) to actually succeed. The rest of the world knows that a slow and resilient pace is better suited for long term investments and growth. This ‘new’ business realization is almost as outdated as the 2000 Olympics.

The other reason I’m not thrilled with this analogy is that they’ve chosen an animal that doesn’t really work well. Camels are temperamental creatures that actually need a great deal of sustenance to survive those conditions they’ve mentioned. It’s water that they don’t need for long periods, once they stock up. They have to have many other resources up front to survive those harsh conditions the article writer mentioned. So by this analogy, it’s not that different than Silicon Valley’s strongly backed “startups.”

If he wanted to actually use the correct animal for this analogy, then he should call it a tortoise business plan. Actually, any type of reptile or shark would work. It would probably be a better comparison in temperament as well, if we’re talking ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ Whatever you do, consider your angle, and settle in for the long haul.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

10 tips for anyone looking to up their professional game

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It’s easy to get bogged down by the details, procrastinate, and feel unproductive. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track and crush your professional goals.

Published

on

work productivity

Self-reflection is critical to a growth mindset, which you must have if you want to grow and improve. If you are ready to take your professional game to the next level, here are some stories and tips to help you remain focused on killing your goals.

1. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy, as the quote goes. And, in the workplace it’s bound to make you second guess yourself and your abilities. This story explains when comparison can be useful, when to avoid it, and how to change your focus if it’s sucking the life out of you.

2. Burnout is real and the harder you work, the less productive you are. It’s an inverse relationship. But, there are ways to work smarter and have better life balance. Here are some tips to prioritize your workload and find more ease.

3. Stop procrastinating and start getting sh@t done. The reason we procrastinate may be less about not wanting to do something and more about the emotions underlying the task. Ready to get going and stop hemming and hawing, you got this and here’s the way to push through.

4. Perfection is impossible and if you seek this in your work and life, it’s likely you are very frustrated. Let that desire go and learn to be happy with excellence over perfection.

5. If you think you’re really awesome and seriously deserve more money, more responsibility, more of anything and are ready to drop the knowledge on your supervisor or boss, you may want to check this story out to see if your spinning in the right direction.

6. Technology makes it so easy to get answers so quickly, it’s hard to wait around for things to happen. We like instant gratification. Yet, that is another reason procrastination is a problem for some of us, but every person has a different way/reason for procrastinating. Learn what’s up with that.

7. Making choices can be a challenge for some of us (me included) who worry we are making the wrong choice. If you’ve ever struggled with decision making, you know it can be paralyzing and then you either make no decision or choose the safest option. What we have here is the Ambiguity Effect and it can be a real time suck. Kick ambiguity to the curb.

8. If you are having trouble interacting with colleagues or wondering why you don’t hear back from contacts it could be you are creeping folks out unintentionally (we hope). Here’s how to #belesscreepy.

9. In the social media era building your brand and marketing are critical, yet, if you’re posting to the usual suspects and seeing very little engagement, you’ve got a problem. Wharton Business School even did a study on how to fix the situation and be more shareable.

10. Every time you do a presentation that one co-worker butts in and calls you out. Dang. If you aren’t earning respect on the job, you will be limited in your ability to get to the next level. Respect is critical to any leadership position, as well as to making a difference in any role you may have within an organization, but actions can be misconstrued. There are ways to take what may be negative situations and use them to your advantage, building mutual respect.

You have the tools you need, now get out there, work hard, play hard and make sh*t happen. Oh, and remember, growth requires continual reflection and action, but you got this.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Why soft skills are even more essential in online era

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Since many of us aren’t seeing our co-workers in person these days, our soft skills are even more important in the online working space.

Published

on

Skype video chat with person writing in notebook. Soft skills are critical online.

When did we start thinking of “soft” as bad? I mean, we’ve got soft serve (excellent), softball (good exercise), fabric soft-ener (another industry I’m enjoying killing as a millennial). And we’ve got soft skills.

Or at least… I hope we do.

The shift to non-optional remote working has been difficult for a lot of us, especially for everyone who forgets to press mute before making sure the kids behave. But it’ll take more than being hot-mic savvy to make it through the foreseeable future. Brush up on these soft skills while we’re waiting on a vaccine, and it’ll make the coming months (years?) much easier.

1. Tone mastery

Do you know the difference between “Hey, Brenda, can we have a 1:1 at 12:30pm to go over the laser-equipped yoga pants presentation details?” and “Brenda, we need to talk…”?

If not, you might not have a great grasp on how to say with your typey-words what you can no longer say with your facial expressions. You don’t need to throw an emoji or exclamation point into every sentence to get your points across, but you do have the power to keep your coworkers’ heart rates in a safe range by explaining what exactly you need from them in your initial messages.

Use that power wisely.

2. Checking in

There’s no water cooler talk if there’s no water cooler, right?

Making and maintaining connections is more important now than ever, natural introversion be damned. You wanna be a star, don’tcha? Keep up relationships with public shoutouts, inquiries, and reaction images, and you’ll keep up morale while maintaining and boosting your potential for growth in the company.

Even if you’re not a small-talk kind of person, just a drop in for updates, meeting minutes, or sharing a relevant article via appropriate chatrooms and DMs can help hone your soft skills.

“Karen, this MLM article reminded me of your anti-Scentsy tangent you forgot we could all hear, maybe send this to your pushy ex-friend.”

“Hey, Ravindra, how’s the new laptop working out? All good? No ‘Kill all Humans’ protocols like the last one?”

Simple blips like this can add up like couch change. If you’re an admin, make a general chats section, and work in enough time in meetings to allow everyone to have a bit of a chat before getting down to business.

3. Make yourself available

This was important before the pandemic, honestly, but it bears repeating now, especially for everyone in a leadership position. If you’re not making time for check-ins, constantly cancelling meetings, or just generally enjoying being gone when people need you…figure out a way to not. Delegate what you can, bring on a VA, shorten that vacation, whatever you have to do. Everyone’s struggling, and being captain means your crew is looking to you. Don’t let the general air of desperation lull you into thinking a metaphorical keelhauling is out of the question—that extra power still comes with extra responsibility.

Keep yourself from double-bookings, cancellations, and absences as much as possible, and things will continue to improve internally… Even if they don’t in the outside world.

Aesop had a fable about an oak tree and a little river reed. When a storm came, the hardened oak tree fell and died, while the flexible reed bent with the wind and lived. We’re in the storm now, and everyone’s doing their best not to break. Keep yourself rooted friends, but the moral here is to soften up.

Continue Reading

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!