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Perception Versus Realty




Real Estate is local but…

Last week as I was getting ready to attend business meetings in California, I stopped at my local credit union to get cash a couple of checks for the trip. I’m friendly with most of the tellers, and they all know I’m in real estate so at some point the conversation always seems to get around to the market. My teller asked how business was and I told her that it was fine, people were buying homes, and that as we went into spring the activity seemed to be increasing. She then said.”I guess that’s because all of the prices are coming down so much, huh?”. And I was (brace yourself) almost at a loss for words.

Our market in Philadelphia saw great appreciation during the peak of the market, but not the levels that some markets saw like Las Vegas, Phoenix, SoCal, Miami etc. As a result, our market has not seen the price reductions that have become part of the landscape in some of those areas. In fact recently Philadelphia Magazine , a large local magazine that prints a housing issue every March, had just had an entire issue telling local residents that our market was not suffering, but was in fact pretty healthy. The article, “Everything You Know About Philly Real Estate is Wrong” demonstrated that the market was stable in price though the number of properties sold had diminished in the past year. Even our local newspaper had recently had a few articles about the stability of our housing prices, and I thought that perceptions might have shifted. But here, this bright working woman seemed to have missed that local message. It sort of makes you wonder doesn’t it? At least it made me wonder.

Most Really Significant Media is not…

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR has become associated with his accurate and meaningful mantra “All real estate is local”. And those of us in the real estate industry know that to be true. But most people get their information from media that is not local. They get their information from the sources that are easiest to access, or from sources that are “in their face” the most. And those sources are television, radio, and syndicated journalists. And these media all generally tell the same story because they are not real estate experts and its easy to get into a herd mentality since opinions seem more valid when they are echoed by a group of people.

For many years their message was, “real estate is great“, “real estate means wealth“, “real estate is how to get rich quick“, “anything you buy today will be worth more tomorrow” (or maybe later this afternoon). Then their message went to “it can’t be as good as we’ve been telling you it is“, “when will the bubble burst“, “watch out the bad times are here“, and”the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” Then we entered the third phase when there were real price adjustments and trouble in specific real estate markets around the country.”the end is here!”, “the bubble has burst“, “real estate (everywhere) is plummeting“, and “see how smart we are, we told you so!” All of which was compounded by the “sub-prime debacle”, which became the “mortgage meltdown” and led people to believe that “everyone is going to lose their homes”.

All of this was exacerbated by the need of the media to fill the network TV shows, the cable TV shows, news radio, talk radio, the newspapers , the financial magazines, the podcasts and blogs of the financial pundits, and the podcasts and blogs of the journalists who follow the economy. For goodness sakes, Jim Cramer from “Mad Money, a stock expert who has no real estate background, made the flat unilateral statement that no one should buy real estate for the next year or two – under any circumstances- not no way – not no how (apologies to the guard in the “Wizard of Oz”) . We can put his advice into perspective by remembering that this was the genius who specifically told people not to sell Bear Sterns just before that stock plummeted through the floor.

Now is the Best Time to Buy

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that we’re not experiencing some price adjustments, or that the real estate market in many places has not resembled a Nuclear holocaust (I know a broker in a Southern State whose company went from 58 Million dollars in Commission income in 2006 to 27 Million in 2007- and while that’s still a lot of income, that’s a huge hit for any company or individual to take as well as a tribute to that owner who is still stable and operating a fine company) But its just not the case everywhere, and when consumers don’t realize this they create the myth of a national real estate market which does not exist.

I’m one of those people who still believe that real estate is a good thing to buy if you have a need for housing. I think that over a term of years, people benefit from owning their home both emotionally and financially. I also believe that real estate is a good investment if you buy using common sense and follow some basic rules of real estate investing.

If you buy a property and obtain a rent that matches or exceeds the costs of financing and operating the property you will make money. Over a period of years, you will receive income from your rental (which will generally increase over the years), increase your equity as the rent pays down the loan, receive a tax benefit from depreciation, and possibly experience some appreciation over a period of time if you are patient. And if you don’t get the appreciation, the other three are still pretty decent returns, especially when you calculate the benefit of leveraging your down payment to control the larger amount of money representing the value of the property. Even though that down payment may need to be larger, you will still be controlling as much as 3 or 4 dollars for every one you invest. Remember, the concept of an investment is that you invest money – not that you borrow the entire value of an asset and then hope for appreciation.

And I hasten to point out that this isn’t just theory for me. I am an active real estate investor buying property right now. I know that as long as people get married and divorced, are born and die, people will continue to need housing and real estate will be rented, bought and sold.

The Quick and Easy Answer is…

That there is no quick and easy answer. People who having housing needs should buy property to satisfy those needs on the best terms and at the best price possible, understanding that purchasing a house is a long term commitment. The old rules apply – a property that satisfies the needs of the buyer, with a good design, priced well, in a well maintained area with good pride of ownership is probably the right thing for the buyer to own.

Investors need to buy properties based on the reality of the marketplace they work in. Maybe they should buy to rent, and maybe they can still buy the property, add value through improvement, and realize4 an entrepreneurial return on their effort, but they can;t just buy a property for the asking price and expect to resell it for a profit based on anticipated appreciation. But with CDs and Money Markets at 3 or 4 percent, real estate is still a superior return for most people who can sacrifice liquidity for a higher return. And some people should just not sell right now, or possibly buy if they don’t have a real need, or the money to invest in real estate.

Each one of us should look for the articles about our marketplace analyze the information and then tell the truth of the market to each person we want to to work with so that they might better understand what that marketplace really is. I think we need to make comparisons with the national media and explain how the information provided by those media compare to the real local picture. We need to use our blogs and newsletters, and e-mail campaigns to spread the word in clear concise easy to understand terms so that consumers know what the real deal is where you are- and why this might just be the best time to buy real estate.

After all, everyone who has a monthly housing expense is paying someone’s mortgage, so it may as well be their own.Unless they are my tenants – in that case they should continue to rent and pay off my mortgages.

(photo credit)

Bill is an unusual blend of Old & New - The CEO Century 21 Advantage Gold (Philadelphia's Largest Century 21 company and BuzzBuilderz (a Social Media Marketing Company), He is a Ninja CEO, blending the Web 1 and 2.0 world together in a fashion that stretches the fabric of the universe. You can follow him on twitter @Billlublin or Facebook or LinkedIn.

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  1. John Lauber

    April 6, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    I read those articles and forwarded them to my sphere when they came out. Being in your market, I’ve heard those same questions/concerns. I feel like I’ve been saying the same thing since 2006 or so, “This area is not as bad as the media would have you believe. All real estate is local and we’re OK.” I read all the articles in Philly Magazine and thought they could only help and we’ve been seeing plenty of action in our office since January (before the articles came out). I cringe when I hear Cramer and other “experts” make simplistic, across the board statements. We need more articles like Art Heavens wrote in early March (when that Philly magazine came out).

    It’s like someone who keeps saying you look sick, that you think you may be sick. Some people I speak with do understand that they’re not “sick”. Those are the people I’m enjoying working with now. Now, if only a few more would take their medicine, I can keep paying my mortgage 🙂

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Suzy Trotta

    April 6, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I love your final comment about renters paying someone else’s mortgages. I posted it over at my blog. Enjoyed the article!

  3. Bill Lublin

    April 6, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    @ John- Didn’t mean to ignore Al, but he’s said lots of negative stuff before reaching that epiphany!
    @ Suzy – Thanks, I’m honored! 🙂

  4. Bob Schenkenberger

    April 6, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Love the video, I will be sharing it soon on my blog! Thanks for the post!

  5. John Lauber

    April 7, 2008 at 4:25 am

    Bill and all – I mistyped the name above in my prior comment. It was Alan (not Art). I even double checked my comment. Too bad you can’t edit comments.

  6. West Toronto realtor

    April 7, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Love this one! Sometimes I have feeling that there’s, much more fun, when working as realtor on US market now. It seems nobody is knowing what’s going on and everybody is talking just the right opposite and many “experts” emerged, while real professionals are just smiling. I am working as a West Toronto realtor team member and situation here is much calmer. However, you can find some (and there is still more and more of them) prophets, telling that “the crisis will cross Canadian borders in few weeks!” without providing any facts…

  7. Janice Bovee

    April 7, 2008 at 8:00 am

    You make many good points, “All real estate is local” has been my mantra for at least a year now. I think a lot of people are into doom and gloom scenarios. I’ve been an investor in Philadelphia and New Jersey real estate for 25yrs now and I say amen let them pay my mortgages.

  8. Matthew Rathbun

    April 8, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    ::deep bow:: I stand corrected – I am still the rookie writer on the blog 🙂

    Incredibly important points here. Too often practitioners relegate their need to be a micro-market professional. They try to utilize national publications or bias to justify their advice to their client. Not only is real estate local, but each consumer has different needs and desires that makes them unique.

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Business Marketing

The secret to crafting consistently high-converting emails?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.



Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject LinesThink about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?

    If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.

    The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.

  2. Nail the IntroNever take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.

    It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!

  3. Use VideoEmail might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.

    According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”

    This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.

  4. Keep Eyes MovingThe goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.

    One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.

    One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.

  5. Don’t Ask Too MuchIt can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.

    Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

What entreprenuers can learn about branding from trendy startups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) What’s the secret of focused startup branding, and how can you apply it to large enterprises?



A set of wine from Craft Hugo, showing off pleasing branding in labels.

Think of your favorite brand. Is it the product they offer or the branding that you love? Exactly – brand ethos reigns supreme, especially with those trendy, aesthetically-pleasing startups (I never thought Glossier had good makeup, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t visit their website once or twice a month).

So let’s break it down.

Co-founder of Red Antler – a company that assists startups in creating successful branding – Emily Heyward believes in a few branding truths.

Firstly, you have to make sure not to market your brand as a single product or experience. Doing so, she says, will pigeonhole you and thus truncate your ability to expand and offer new products and services (she gives MailChimp, known almost exclusively for email marketing, as an example).

What Heyward does say to do is instead market an idea. For example, the brand Casper (one of Antler’s clients) markets itself as a sleep company instead of a mattress company. By doing this, they kept the door open to eventually offer other products, like pillows and bedding.

Heyward states that this “power of focus” is a way to survive – with countless other startups offering the same product or service, you have to position your company as offering something beyond the product. Provide a problem your customer didn’t know they had and offer an innovative solution through your product.

Ever used Slack, the app-based messenger? There were other messengers out there, so focus of Slack’s branding is that regular messaging is boring and that their app makes it more fun. And customers eat it up.

How can this logic apply to mid-to-large enterprises? How can you focus on one specific thing?

Again, placing emphasis on brand over products is essential – what is it about what you offer that makes your customers’ lives better? It’s more cerebral than material. You’re selling a better life.

Another thing to remember is that customers are intrigued by the idea of new experiences, even if the product or service being offered is itself not new. Try not to use dated language that’s colored by a customers’ preexisting feelings. Instead, find an exciting alternative – chat solutions are desperately trying move away from the word “chat”, which can bring to mind an annoying, tedious process, even though that is in fact what they offer.

Broadening the idea of focused brand ethos to a large company can be difficult. By following these tips and tricks from startups, your company can develop a successful brand ethos that extends beyond your best product or service.

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Business Marketing

The rise of influencer marketing and its effect on digital marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) More businesses are planning to invest a larger part of their marketing budgets on more relatable, branded content and influencer marketing.



Influencer speaking to camera for marketing segment.

The digital age has created more savvy consumers, and the barrage of advertising on top of the plenitude of content online can be a lot. Many consumers have learned to hide ads or they simply scroll past them to their content of choice. Most business owners know that digital marketing is a crucial part of any ad strategy, and branded content and influencer marketing continues to grow in the market, because consumers see that it’s different from traditional advertising.

Hardly anything stayed the same in 2020, and traditional advertising also has shifted. Advertiser Perceptions reported on the trend for 2021, based on a survey from late 2020.

“More than half of advertisers using paid branded content and influencers say doing so is more critical than it was a year ago. Throughout the second half of 2020, 32% increased spending on branded content and 25% spent more to back influencers. They’re now putting 20% of their digital budgets into the complementary practices, which is more than they put into any other digital channel (paid search is 14%, display 13%, paid social 12%, digital video 12%).”

The benefits of branded and influencer content are that you are speaking to the consumer where they already are, when you choose an influencer. The people who follow their accounts are more likely to trust that the influencer would only share something they like or use themselves. The best matches are when the influencer marketing fits nicely into the kind of content, the voice, and any specialties they already deal with.

The word “influencer” as well as the concept rubs some people the wrong way. Marketers see the value, though, as influencer marketing can be effective if done well, and the cost to hire them is often less than a traditional ad campaign. If I want to know about food in a city, I’ll follow the hashtags until I find a local food blogger or micro-influencer whose style I like. Then I’ll seek out those restaurants when I visit. Sure, some of the meals are comped, but the truth is that food bloggers and influencers like to share their food recommendations. I have been influenced this way more than once, and not only for food. I am not alone in this, either, which is why it’s an important part of a marketing strategy.

In influencer marketing, the content creator is then given free rein to create within their own style, voice, and persona. They need to connect with their audience in an authentic, familiar way without creating a dissonance for their followers between their public page(s) and the brand. The level of trust is fairly high with influencer marketing, and many influencers realize that promoting something crappy or something outside of their area of expertise or recognition hurts everyone involved.

The power of storytelling comes into play here, as with all good advertising. Branded content is specifically all about the story, often the story of the business’s philosophy or some lifestyle aspect that goes with the brand’s vibe–or is so off that it goes viral. Some branded campaigns join into or build off of conversations already happening in the wider world. The purpose is to have people engage with the brand, with the content, build awareness, encourage conversations, sharing, comments, all with the long term goal of fostering a positive image of the brand so that down the line, they will become consumers.

Think of 2004 Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, based on a study showing that around 2% of women saw themselves as beautiful. The widely studied, award-winning campaign featured women of all backgrounds and body types, without airbrushing and Photoshopping them into a narrow vision of “beauty.” While some people hated it, many loved it and applauded the brand for treading into traditionally uncharted waters. Among haters, fans, and people who weren’t sure what to think, the Dove Real Beauty branded content campaign generated conversations. The campaign also encouraged women to feel good about themselves and lift up other women. One could argue that the campaign you could argue that the Real Beauty campaign was a forerunner to the currently popular body positivity movement, which started gaining traction around 2012. Dove increased sales by at least $1.5 billion in the first ten years the branded content campaign ran.

The goal of branded content is to raise awareness of the brand, but the path from point A (creating the content) to point B (brand awareness, ultimately leading to better sales) is not a straight line. Brands are paying attention to grabbing attention, aka building brand awareness via more upper funnel marketing than lower funnel.

One thing that marketers are looking for now, however, is almost eliminating the funnel. With the mind-boggling increase in e-commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, clickable sales capability becomes important in any kind of marketing, including influencer and branded content. It pays to listen to customers, to find an influencer who meshes with your brand’s purpose, and to create thoughtful branded content that isn’t out of line with your core product or service.

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