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7 signs that your website is out of date

(MARKETING) Just as styles of clothes come and go, website styles can date your business. How can you tell if your design is stuck in the past?

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Just as styles of clothes come and go, website styles can date your business. How can you tell if your design is stuck in the past? Here are seven things that TNW wants you to consider about your design style:

1. Sans serif or not? With 4K in full effect, serif types are coming back into vogue. A serif typeface is one with small lines attached to the end of a letter.

Sans serif typefaces, those without those small lines, were introduced for readability on mobile devices which used to have much lower resolution.

2. Are you constantly changing colors to keep up with trends? Although the “best” color for marketing changes annually, it’s not really about what color you use. It’s about consistent design with color saturation.

3. Where do you work? Sitting at a desk waiting for inspiration is a thing of the past. Get out in the world and work on your tablet to enhance your ideas and take pictures to bring more elements into your design.

4. What’s your perspective? Look through your social media account and look for variety in your photos and posts. Find a new angle for photos and text to give more interesting content.

5. Are you using trends to brand your company? Coloring books may be the hot ticket item in 2016, but where will they be in 2017 when the population moves on to the next thing?

Use trends in marketing, but not for branding.

6. What’s your design style? Flat design is a trend that is going by the wayside. Get one step ahead by using elements to add depth to your site.

7. Do your templates look like templates? Word Press is great for small businesses, but when you use one of the templates without any customization, you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Spend a few dollars and get some help implementing your own images and graphics to fully adapt your site.

TNW assumes that your site has already been on the cutting edge. We’re still seeing a number of small businesses who don’t have much content about their business.

Having a website is vital in today’s economy, and even if you’re the only one in your community that provides your service or product, you cannot expect to stay on top by just having a minimal website.

Make it a part of your marketing strategy to update your site weekly and keep your customers engaged.

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Dawn Brotherton is a staff writer at The American Genius, and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Before earning her degree, she spent over 20 years homeschooling her two daughters, who are now out changing the world. She lives in Oklahoma and loves to golf. She hopes to publish a novel in the future.

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Real Estate Marketing

How to get a 9 star rating on Zillow when you’re limited to 5 stars

(MARKETING) When you’re limited to just a few stars on Zillow or similar sites, how do you prove to the public that you’re worth many more stars?

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Let’s say that you ask all of your customers to rate you on Zillow. Let’s say that you think it’s the best site since sliced bread (or you hate it, whatever, that matters not in this scenario).

But let’s also say that you’re either an overachiever or a smartass and you believe that your five star rating is simply too low and that you have actually earned more stars throughout your stellar career.

What do you do? How do you break out of the “Five Star Zone” without paying people to rate and rank you and without bribing Zillow?

You get creative.

Enter Frank Llosa, Esq., Broker of Frankly Real Estate, who is both hated and revered for his endless pushing of the envelope. Years ago, he figured out a way around the five star rating system on Zillow without any cash exchanging hands.

How? Behold:

Llosa did this stunt long ago, but Zillow never shut him down (and if they had, he’s used to his shenanigans being stifled).

Will Zillow shut you down if you try this? Probably.

While hilarious, it does prove that the web doesn’t limit the creative, rather, it unveils the endless opportunities to capture consumers’ attention – wouldn’t you take a second look at a 9-star agent on Zillow? I sure would!

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Old School Marketing

This simple questioning technique will help you convert more sales

Will you read this article? According to the latest research, if you got as far as reading that question, the answer is more likely to be, “yes.”

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Will you read this article? According to the latest research, if you got as far as reading that question, the answer is more likely to be, “yes.”

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that asking someone a question about a behavior made much more of an impact than telling someone what to do.

Just asking someone a question about a behavior increases the likelihood that they’ll do it.

It’s called the question-behavior effect. According to lead researcher, Eric Spangenberg, the question-behavior effect is most notable when the question encourages behaviors that are already socially celebrated. For example, will you try to eat healthy in 2016? Will you exercise today?

Exactly why questions are more effective than statements remains unknown, but it probably has to do with the mindset of the answerer. If someone tells you, “you should volunteer for this charity” you are more likely to bristle at being told what to do, rejecting the authority and advice of an outside opinion.

But when asked, “will you make a donation?” even if you don’t answer right away, you become more open-minded to the possibility.

Your options become expansive, rather than set, which makes you feel empowered and self-confident that you can make a positive decision for yourself.

The study also found that the effect was strongest when questions were administered through a computer or on paper, rather than orally, and when the question called for a direct “yes” or “no” answer. Perhaps having to type out or write down an answer made people feel more accountable to following through with the behavior.

Could you use the question-behavior effect to improve your business? (You see what I did there?) Asking an employee, “will we see your report in time for the deadline?” may just increase the chances that you will. And perhaps asking if your customer wants to purchase your product will put them in an open-minded state to say yes.

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Real Estate Marketing

The white-boxing trend is back in real estate

(REAL ESTATE) White-boxing refers to emptying out your entire house instead of staging it like an IKEA display, and some are opting for this when selling.

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Staging your home for sale is a hilariously convoluted process that can involve anything from vacuuming your sofa to renting a whole house-worth of furniture to ensure that the feng shui (or whatever) matches up with the price tag. If your client is in a slightly less pretentious mood when it comes time to sell, consider white-boxing.

Far from being a racial slur, white-boxing refers to emptying out every space in a house to present clients with a blank slate. The idea is that no furniture is better than outdated or ratty furniture (your horse-hair blanket is hurting more than it’s helping, Kyle), and clients may even be able to save on some renovation costs along the way.

White-boxing also allegedly allows potential buyers to envision freely the space as they prefer it rather than emphasizing a style which may not appeal to everyone in the market.

Buyers who are interested in touching up or renovating their home may also be more attracted to a white-boxed house due to the open nature of the presentation. By that same token, though, white-boxing makes it much harder to hide blemishes and other flaws which can turn buyers away — if a home is a bit quirky, you may want to stick to a traditional form of staging or address the problems before the house goes on the market.

There are a couple of key things to note if you’re thinking about white-boxing a home.

Firstly, the home’s location and/or view should be the main selling point if you’re in a high-end market; otherwise, you may end up with a string of snooty customers wondering why there’s nowhere to sit. Similarly, you should avoid white-boxing a client’s home if it’s particularly cozy — empty rooms can appear even smaller than they actually are, so you may have to rely on the existing furniture to close the deal.

Hiring a staging professional is always ideal and is proven to increase the bottom line, but in some instances, white-boxing (you know, the way you used to sell homes) is a growing trend that has some upsides to consider.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you commit to a staging style — leaving a dining room set in the middle of an otherwise empty house is super weird, and the inverse is just as unnerving. However, if you’re looking to cut down on staging costs and your client’s home has little to hide, white-boxing may be the right choice.

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