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I’m Going Local and I Think I Like It.

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Go LocalThere’s a lot of talk going on about the future of the media, and how real estate businesses essentially have to become nanopublishers if they want to really make an impact with their online marketing.  I’m not a Realtor, but I do see the value in Hyper-local online marketing… and it’s not just for real estate.

I see the beginning of the wave.  The ease of modern publishing on WordPress combined with the the ability to bootstrap marketing efforts using social media is too exciting to pass up.  Curbed.com just got a 1.5 million investment to expand it’s concept to Chicago.  I don’t think investors Brad Inman or Nick Denton are shooting blind.  With big news in ’06 and ’07 regarding online media and newspapers migrating focus online in droves, big opportunity exists.

This is why I decided to quit watching and try my hand.  I plan to take the morsels of knowledge I have gathered from countless articles read in 2007 and attempt to put it to good use by building a hyper-local blog for my city… and build local traffic that would be invaluable for a real estate professional or any local business for that matter.

What is my motive?  The hope that my site will become popular, serving with and along side other media sites in my area to bring relevant information to people.  How I use it from there is going to be the fun part.  Right now, I’m focused on people.  In the words of Derek Zoolander: “but what people?”.  And my answer is: “I don’t know, local people!”.

So what defines a hyper-local blog?  What does a local blog for a typical suburb, in a typical city, do for people?  What information is useful?  What are they looking for?  Is this audience already online?  If so, where do they hang out?  How local should I go?  What is the scope of the category content?  How will I promote it online?  Offline?  Where do I start?  Is it possible for one person to handle it or will I need help?  What does the future hold?

These are some of the many questions I will attempt to answer as I chronicle my journey into the local terrain. I need help from geniuses.  Stay tuned… I will roll out the concept in coming posts.

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Mariana

    January 17, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    I have a city-blogsite (for the city I work in), as well as a couple hyper-local blogs. I really should have made them ONE blog, but I decided to keep one purely real estate focused and one strictly community focused. I promote them in my newsletters and when I deliver things door-to-door in the area. People LOVE the sites, and I always get awesome feedback.
    LivingInGreenhaven.com and GreenhavenRealEstate.net … if you wanted to see what I put into my hyer-local blogs.
    Good luck!

  2. Benn Rosales

    January 17, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Carson, having looked at what you’re doing, I have to say- you are the man… I am glad to know you’re getting close- hurry up! Our readers will want to see this… (no pressure ;] )

  3. Lani Anglin

    January 17, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Carson, I think that your project is an amazing way for your small city to connect and having been a local and your watching it explode over the years gives you unique insight.

    It will be helpful to EVERYONE to read a chronicle of making a hyperlocal blog because we typically only see an unveiling and never learn what it takes to make it happen behind the scenes.

    Hyperlocal blogging is definitely time consuming, but the readers and writers here are always quick to come up with suggestions if you hit any road blocks. I have a really good feeling about your site’s future success!

  4. Jack A

    January 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I am in the middle of implementing an entirely new business plan with deep roots in hyper-local community and real estate website, structured follow-up programs and tons of video. I am from 13 generations of ere and love the community. The bennefit is that by creating this type of site and philosiphy, you create the PERFECT venue for promoting real estate and invaluable and unique services to buyers and sellers. I ave enjoyed the video from Connect that I have seen on successful blogging. I am going the route of finding good, local authors to contribute to the cause.

    Consider the market downturn as an opportunity to prepare for the next generation of consumers and be first to the punch in your local market.

  5. ines

    January 20, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    When I created miamism, the concept was to be hyper-local….but it’s not easy – I’m still trying to answer all the questions you asked.

    Of course hitting it from the non-Realtor side like Curbed does is an amazing concept.

  6. Steve Simon

    August 12, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Local is a relative term. the amount of work that blogging requires is vastly under estimated.
    Done well its a couple of hours a day.
    If you have three and four blogs that would mean you might need to invest six to eight hours a day to do them justice.
    I am not talking about sitting down for six minutes and banging on the keyboard until tow or three posts appear.
    I’m talking about picking your current topic target, reading eight to ten top sources for input and stimulation then forming you own synthesis; and ultimately getting to the page.
    Then there is the tech aspect of blogging, making sure your read is clean, you have made it easy for readers to share, keeping pace with the evil doers (spammer, hacker, etc) and of course the ever present need for SEO.
    Google has changed the way they do certain things fifteen times since I have been watching! That doesn’t make them bad, but it does mean unless you read the Google forums you will be left behind..
    Just my thoughts 🙂

  7. Laura Cannon

    August 12, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    There is something very intimate and rewarding about a hyper-local blog. I have one, and I really enjoy writing it. It makes me feel connected to my community. My clients like it because it makes them feel connected to me, and more importantly, to something larger than I am, i.e. the online community that visits the blog. In turn, this helps me build trust and authority with my sphere.

    I think that one of the most important aspects of a local blog is local pictures. I change my blog header picture about four times a week, and I add local photos to my articles. People in my area are not used to seeing their village up in lights and the beautiful parts of it highlighted on the internet. They are flattered to be reminded of how lovely their community is. I get more feedback on my pictures than anything else. I bring my camera everywhere, and I love capturing the “under-the-radar” beauty of my hometown.

    I look forward to seeing your project unfold. 🙂

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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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