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Mark Your Calendars … RE Bar Camp Bismarck

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I Don’t Get It

Does anyone else remember the seen from Big where Tom Hanks is in a development meeting at the toy company, listens to an entire presentation with a quizzical look on his face and then says simply, “I don’t get it?” If you do, then you can understand my current feeling with the wave of RE BarCamps building across the country. Bismarck’s not on the official list but it can’t be far off …

There’s a fundamental flaw in the RE BarCamp setup … not BarCamps in general, but the real estate version: the purpose of a BarCamp is to have an “unconference” conference where there’s no set agenda and all of the discussions develop organically. Except without an agenda in place, it’s difficult if not impossible to decide who the intended audience for these events might be.

Are they designed for more seasoned tech-savvy real estate agents? If so, there need to be discussions at a somewhat higher level than for those who are paying Active Rain to blog because they haven’t figured out that WordPress is free.

Are they designed for these newbies? If so, how do you get the more experienced agents to participate and help these others grow? (Maybe I’m the only one but I’m soooo DONE with blank stares from agents who never will adopt any advice I provide. But hey, it’s not like I’m closing a couple of deals a month strictly through the Internet so what do I know …) I realize I’m not supposed to ask what’s in it for me, but what’s in it for me – especially if I have to travel either across state lines or into a different area code to attend?

Lending a Helping Hand

I’m not against attempting to help the newbies but at some point these people needs to take the initiative and do something with what they’re told. Because if they aren’t then they’re wasting both their time and mine. And unlike Mr. Hand, I can’t show up at their house on prom night to reclaim the minutes of my time that were wasted in a futile attempt to enlighten.

And so I’m back to square one … am I the intended audience for these events or not? If I’m not, then why keep urging me to tell everyone about the event through my Facebook account? Why not spend the time trying to get those who aren’t online to attend … actually I know that answer. Because they probably won’t.

When NAR decides they’re going to announce who was hired as Social Media Manager at a BarCamp, does the event even belong to the agents anymore? (If you’ve read a similar sentiment recently it’s because I’m in agreement. I’m now going to go take a Silkwood shower.)

Everyone seems excited to have one of these and I’m not sure they’re even sure why in some cases, except to say “hey, we had a BarCamp.” You don’t need a BarCamp. You need a curveball … I mean closings … right, Meat?

Hey Bartender

To be honest, regardless of whether I’m who is being targeted, call me when the drinking starts. Because what I’ve found is I learn more with a drink in my hand at these events (and also at my former brokerage’s happy hours) than I ever learned in the designed sessions (or training classes).

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Ken Brand

    February 24, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Nice.

    Sly and thin sliced sarcasm? You can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish. Horses to water….. “Mr. Hand and Meat”? Prom? Silkwood shower…

    Yahtzee for you.

    What’cha drink’n sir?

  2. Ben Martin, Va Assn of Realtors

    February 24, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    I don’t disagree with anything you’ve written, but I’ll answer “No” to your question: when NAR shows up, does it really belong to the agents? They just want to participate.

    By their very nature, BarCamps defy definition, and a phrase I’ve heard repeated with respect to BarCamps is “Whoever shows up is supposed to be here, and whatever happens here is supposed to happen.” That kind of environment can be unsettling, especially if your Myers-Briggs ends in a J.

    I’d say, no, you’re not the audience, in the sense that you’re not going to learn a whole lot at a BarCamp. You might get one or two new tricks. But you ARE the audience in the sense that you have a lot to offer to others, as you’ve noted. And I guarantee you’ll find that “whoever shows up” at BarCamp won’t glare back with an empty stare.

  3. Linsey Planeta

    February 24, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    I’ve never been to one and I’m looking forward to the one in LA. I’ve had some of the same confusion about the audience for the event. But hell, I’m happy to get together for that drink too. It’s about the connections and, like you said, that always seems most meaningful during cocktail hour following.

  4. elodie

    February 24, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I’ve been to an open presentation where the topics selected by the vocal members of the audience were much too advanced for the rest of us. We all wanted to participate, but were too ill-equipped.

    In my experience, the disadvantage of an unconference setting is that the bullies control the event.

  5. Dale Chumbley

    February 25, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Coming from one of the people helping put on one of these events, I can say I’ve thought these same things. Who is the audience? Who will attend? Who will share? I believe (after experiencing it in NYC) it will all happen organically.

    My hope is we will have some who travel from out of area (hopefully prepared to share their knowledge since most of them are fairly well versed in the SM world). Hopefully we get some of the locals who “dabble” in the SM world (because frankly, most of them stink at it) and I hope we get a good turnout of people who want to learn about this world that those of us here use & flourish in on a daily basis. We’ll be hitting the streets and going to office meetings personally inviting them since most of these people will never see an invite on facebook.

    Thanks for continuing to challenge the thinking and helping us to refine why we do what we do.

  6. Chris Griffith

    February 25, 2009 at 6:16 am

    I am now counting on the “what is gmail?” question at every panel I sit on. Maybe I should make it a game and start bets with the other panelists. 🙂

  7. Andy Kaufman

    February 25, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    You’re right JD, you might not be the intended audience and if you determine that you’re not, it’s no big deal, we’ll still love you anyway.

    The BarCamp model borrows from Open Space principles in that, the intended audience is whoever comes & whatever happens is the only thing that could have.

    You could teach/lead a session on something that you’re an expert in and build some social capital with the next generation of knowledge hungry professionals.

    Don’t feel like doing that? Why not organize an advanced session so that you can talk and share secrets with your peers at a level that 95% of the attendees won’t ever understand and truly geek out IRL.

    If you don’t want to do that, why not hang out, pop in and out of sessions or talk to people in the hall all day? Who knows what you might happen.

    I’ve done them all and can say I’ve benefited from doing all three.

    You’ll get the most out of RE BarCamp if follow the law of two feet: If you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet. Go to some other place where you may learn and contribute.

    Finally, the movement has never ‘belonged’ to agents. Its for whoever is interested in real estate and wants to gather and share in an open environment. You’re the intended audience for RE BarCamp if you want to be.

  8. John Wake

    February 26, 2009 at 2:31 am

    Hey Jonathan, I can save you some money.

    Skip the BarCamps and let’s go straight to the bar.

    I’ll buy the first round. Can your car make it as far east as Desert Ridge? (I know Scottsdale’s out.) Hell, I suppose I could go to Arrowhead Ranch if you buy the first round… and maybe some appetizers.

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    February 28, 2009 at 10:22 am

    There are times when we’re against so many things, I often wonder what we’re for….

  10. Jonathan Dalton

    February 28, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I’m easy, Matthew …

    I’m for skinning cats, paying my mortgage and anything that will allow me to do both with some dollars to spare.

    Increasingly, I’m finding it’s my own hard work and not the search for miracle cures that’s allowing me to do that.

  11. Matthew Rathbun

    February 28, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I really did mean “us”… I am more guilty than most at warring against things.

    In this case, I think that any learning and sharing opportunity is good. The REBARCamp is a catalyst to the social part of social media. There will be plenty of bar time 😉

    But, I get your broader point in that we shouldn’t depend on any one single source to be magic beans.

  12. Kim Wood

    March 4, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Hi Jonathan!
    Although some I’ve recently attended are not set up like the Bangin’ REBCSFO in 2008 – the premise is…. learn, share, contribute… if you aren’t happy with the session(s) you’ve attended – go start another one ! I have learned something at each of the 3.5 BarCamps I’ve attended. Yes – lots of learning happens ‘after hours’ as well !
    With plans underway for REBCPHL – we are also focused like Dale said, on thinking, “Who?” “Why?” and “How do we target market to them?”
    It’s all about sharing – most may not carry out the information shared – but hopefully some will.
    Of course…. like most things….. Bar Camps aren’t for everyone, but give it a fair shot – each one will be different. Guaranteed.

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Business Marketing

Simple way to send text, email appointment reminders to clients

(MARKETING) This new app has tons of automatic tools that help small businesses continue to move into the digital age with ease of use.

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reminders

As the world becomes more heavily reliant on automated messaging and computer-mediated communication, we become more reluctant to actually speak to someone on the telephone. While I often find myself in this category, I also feel saddened by what Alexander Graham Bell must think. I digress.

We can certainly argue that a major reason we prefer to text or email rather than sit on the phone is for convenience. We can send a quick text while working, as it’s much more difficult to get away with a phone call on the down low.

That’s why it’s become so popular for places such as doctor’s offices and salons to begin using text and email alerts as appointment reminders. Now, Remindr is getting in on the action.

According to their site, “Remindr.co is a tool for small businesses to schedule automated email and text message appointment reminders. Reduce your meeting no-shows by alerting your clients beforehand. Easily confirm appointments with your customers via text message.”

They proclaim that they’re “great for any business that schedules customer appointments or client meetings,” citing their top use cases as restaurant reservations, nail salons, personal trainers, barbers, tattoo shops, spas, real estate agents, independent car mechanics, and tech sales scheduling customer calls.

This is a win-win as it’s convenient for the customer, but also saves time on the business’s side because it eliminates hours of reminder calls. Additionally, the method supports the reduction of no-shows, which is incredibly important to businesses – especially small ones.

Remindr features include: text message, email, confirmation, reusable templates, schedule alerts, and easy user interface. With text messaging, businesses can send personalized SMS messages to customers from your Remindr phone number.

With email, businesses can send personalized email reminders to their customers through Remindr email addresses. Then, customers can confirm their appointment via text messages or email, and businesses can review confirmations on their Remindr account.

Businesses can create their own personalized reminder templates to pre-fill the reminder form (for example: “Hi NAME! We’re looking forward to your appointment tomorrow (DATE) at TIME. Respond YES to confirm your appointment.”) Reminders can be automatically sent via email or text at a predetermined time.

Remindr provides an easy user interface where businesses can start scheduling reminders instantly, use full-keyboard form navigation, and it is mobile friendly.

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Business Marketing

10 easy steps to get into Instagram marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want to up your social media marketing game? Start better with Instagram for your business using these easy tips to quickly get established.

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Instagram post open on a tablet

When Instagram first came on the scene, it was simply a place to share pictures of your cat or a pie that you just baked. While it still is a place for that kind of content, it has also grown into a platform where one can influence others and build an empire.

So, if you’re looking to step up your social media marketing game through use of Instagram, look no further than using these 10 steps from Neil Patel.

  1. Switch to a business profile: This is super easy and can be done in just a few clicks. Switching from a personal to a business profile gives a better look at your followers through Insights, allowing you to see analytics and impressions. It also adds a contact feature that takes a visitor right to an email draft to you – just like it would on your website. All this and it makes it possible to publish ads.
  2. Use free marketing tools: Because Facebook owns Instagram, they operate kind of similarly. As mentioned in #1, Insights allows for a deep dive into personalized analytics to see what kind of posts are clicking with your audience and which aren’t. That way, you know what kind of content to continue with and what to do away with.
  3. Post product teasers: There are a variety of ways to do this, including posting about flash sales or linking business platforms that sell your product to make it easier for your customer to shop. The trick here is to not be pushy, but instead be enticing and make the post convenient for your consumer.
  4. Create a sponsored ad: Like Facebook, you can post ads and include a specific budget of what you want to spend. You can showcase one ad or multiple with the carousel feature. You can also target the exact demographic you’re looking to hit.
  5. Instagram stories: These last 24 hours and don’t have to be as “fancy” as a regular post. Give followers a glimpse into your brand with behind-the-scenes shots, polls, fun questions, etc. Make them feel like they’re part of the experience and use this as a way to tell your brand’s story.
  6. Partner with influencers: Work out a deal with influencers who have a decent following. Send them one of your items in exchange for them posting a photo of the item and tagging your brand. This will reach their whole followership and build your credibility.
  7. Collect user-submitted photos: Share photos posted by customers loving on your brand or product. Either share them to your story, or use a regram app to repost customer photos to your feed. It’s basically free advertising for your product.
  8. Hashtags: Come up with an interactive hashtag solely for your brand. Think in terms of verbs (a la Nike’s “Just Do It”). It can be punny or practical, but something that people attribute to your brand and your brand only.
  9. Timing and over-posting: Look into the best times to post – this is when your users are most active. It will be helpful to use Insights to understand when your time to shine may be. According to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post. Also, don’t over post. It’s annoying and it’s always best to err on the side of quality over quantity.
  10. Track the right metrics: Insights do no good if you aren’t looking at the right data. You need to keep tabs on whether or not what you’re doing is increasing your follower growth as well as growth for your interaction. With research, use of Insights and a little trial and error, you’ll get yourself to where you need to be.

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Business Marketing

7 Low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses [sponsored]

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.

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low budget marketing ideas

The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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