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Begin your branding process with free, (mostly) non-cheesy name generator

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Naming your company, brand, product, or service can be incredibly difficult and intimidating. Luckily, there’s a new tool that can help.

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Bright colored alphabet on dark background, a starting place for branding and naming a company.

There’s an entire episode in HBO’s wonderful Silicon Valley that focuses solely on naming their fledgling company. The founder is adamant about keeping his original choice in spite of literally everyone around him hating it, and there’s a scene involving a white board and dozens of terrible new monikers. It’s a masterful send up of startup culture.

Branding, marketing, and publicity all follow from a name, and it is essential that these all work in tandem harmoniously (I’m not advocating either way here – it’s simply that this is a modern and fascinating issue). It helps if the name fulfills all its intended requirements as well – memorable, unique, implies what the product is or the service provided, and noticeable. It is a critical piece of any company and must be approached with care.

The gravity of this step cannot be understated, and as such, it can be paralyzing to know where to begin. There are a number of strategies out there, and there is a lot of sound advice to help guide your approach in a sensible way. But even with all of this at your disposal, the act of picking a name is still vital and daunting.

This is where NameSnack comes in – a free business name generator that can help jump start the branding process. Simply put, it takes words or phrases and then generates several potential business names in seconds. Writing in “teapot” (I do not have aspirations to take on the teapot industry) will return results such as “Hello There Tea,” “Empire Teapot,” and “O’Cool Uncle Polly” (which isn’t even the most nonsensical option I found). It can even tell you if a URL is available (another area of controversy), and take you straight to BigCommerce to set this up (though this would just be one choice of many).

Further, NameSnack links up to Zarla, which is a service that can generate a logo for you. You’re even given the ability to customize the text, add a slogan, change the colors, or add your own icons.

In a matter of moments, you could have a brand new company name, register a website for it, and have a logo created that helps drive your business.

Having spent some time in this space, I was curious to see the true flexibility of NameSnack’s service. As I put in different words and phrases, I found that there were a number of repeat patterns emerging. For example, you might always see “(Random Name)’s (Your Input)” appear, or “Big Ten (Your Input).” There were also results that were only remotely related, or completely and surprisingly unique.

While I cannot say for sure, this would suggest that the algorithm behind the service does a few different things. There’s almost assuredly some level of procedural generation going on (i.e., the system makes something up unprompted via the use of some level of artificial intelligence), but there’s also clearly a number of premade templates that have the user’s input dropped in without further assessment. There doesn’t seem to be many ways to guide the process, and certainly no way to alter after-the-fact results.

To be clear, this is not a bad thing, and I don’t want to diminish the utility of the service. At the very least, it’s a wonderful brainstorming tool for branding. I would consider it incredibly valuable with giving a person, committee, or other group a lot of viable starting points that would ultimately help arrive at a fantastic name. And in that sense, it works remarkably well, and cannot be discounted as at least another avenue to a solution.

Likewise, Zarla is similar, and would unlikely provide a final product, but something to draw from. I have to assume that there’s no legal issues in either service if you take their results as-is with no alteration, but will note that NameSnack specifically mentions it doesn’t check against registered trademark databases.

Naming is essential and difficult work – the story behind the Ford Edsel is a good example of poor name becoming a gargantuan problem. While this was not the sole contributor to its failure, it’s worth noting that substantial correspondence with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Marianne Moore resulted in a back-and-forth for years, and was ultimately rejected for (in some ways) nepotism.

At the very least, exploring every available option is worthwhile, and NameSnack will absolutely give someone several considerations for branding, and even more potential possibilities.

Lastly: If you have any interest in the tech world or laughter then I cannot recommend Silicon Valley enough.

Robert Snodgrass has an English degree from Texas A&M University, and wants you to know that yes, that is actually a thing. And now he's doing something with it! Let us all join in on the experiment together. When he's not web developing at Docusign, he runs distances that routinely harm people and is the kind of giant nerd that says "you know, there's a King of the Hill episode that addresses this exact topic".

Real Estate Marketing

How to make sure a client actually reviews you online

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Actionable customer feedback is one of the most valuable assets at your disposal. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly difficult to obtain ratings and reviews.

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Man drinking coffee looking at phone for reviews.

Actionable customer feedback is one of the most valuable assets at your disposal. Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly difficult to obtain, as angry customers rarely leave coherent reviews and satisfied customers often avoid them entirely. Here are a few ways to achieve positive feedback without breaking the bank.

Before embarking on a crusade to pester your customers for their time, take a second to identify pain points in your services.

Are your negotiating tactics superb, or do they end up a bit lackluster from time to time? Does your customer interfacing garner largely positive results, or do you get the feeling that you’re putting people off? Knowing what to look for when asking for feedback and reviews will help you narrow the number of choices your customers have, making an answer significantly more likely.

Once you have a general idea of what you want to address, it is ideal to implement a universal online reviews strategy that all clients are asked for, and you never cherry-pick for marketing purposes, rather publish all of the ratings for an accurate picture, given that consumers want real transparency. For example, RatedAgent.

But maybe you’re a solo agent with a broker that doesn’t invest in anything (especially not a ratings and reviews strategy) and you’re on your own.

In that case, start putting together a form with specific questions targeting your established weak spots – naturally, the fewer the better, but don’t lead people – transparency is good. In most cases, you’ll want to stick to three main topics and a general suggestion area; anything more than that, and you risk intimidating your prospective critics.

Following up directly via email is a good way to catch a customer’s attention, but it’s also a good way to end up in your customers’ spam folders, and it can get expensive quite quickly. If you decide to run an email campaign, make sure your intent is in the subject line.

You might even want to pair your email with a promotion, such as a free annual fire inspection or something similar, but be careful not to skew your potential feedback.

An alternative to mass-emailing your client list is installing a pop-up box on your website. After seeing the same box multiple times, some of your clients are bound to cave eventually. As long as you keep the box clean, concise, and easy to exit, you shouldn’t receive negative feedback inspired by annoyed web-goers. You can also add your message to a modal box or a similarly less-intrusive graphic in order to account for the ad-blocker crowd if you don’t see enough feedback within a month or so.

Acting on customer reviews is perhaps the clearest way to improve your customer-facing image, as long as the feedback itself is clear. Knowing what to look for and implementing a pleasant campaign to obtain will get you one step closer to raking in the critiques.

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Real Estate Marketing

Craft the perfect cold email with these simple, awesome templates

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Struggling with inspiration to write those intro emails? These free cold email templates can make growing your business a whole lot cooler.

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reviews Woman seated on ground writing cold email to clients.

Entrepreneurs and digital marketers, you’ve all been there – staring blankly at your computer screen, waiting for the Muse of Marketing to smack you on the head with the perfect words for a perfectly crafted email introduction.

The struggle to write high-quality, effective cold emails for customer prospecting is a near universal pain point in marketing. Need something to help with the pain?

Behold Hunter’s free collection of best-performing cold-email templates. Their sample emails are a treasure trove of inspiration, nudges and signposts to help when you need to reach someone who may not know you or your business.

To make it easy to find the right templates, you can filter by categories such as sales, SEO, follow-up or networking, then refine it toward your offer or call to action. Want to pitch a guest blog post? Offer a free trial? Ask for help connecting with the right person? Just peruse the site to see what goodies you can use.

If you’re not even sure where to start, take a look at Wordstream’s handy tips for creating a cold-email strategy. If you’re a data person, take in the stats on sales emails that work from Hubspot. But if you need to start out with an even bigger picture, take advantage of Hubspot’s sales prospecting guide.

We’ve got some tips for you, too. Here are some thoughts on how to get the most out of Hunter’s template directory.

Resist the urge to just copy, paste and add your details. You’re not a spammer, right? Don’t waste your time or your prospect’s with bot-speak or boilerplate. Templates are your jumping-off point. Do your research, know who you’re talking to and look for ways to personalize.

Know thy business well before you dive in and start emailing. Even with the perfect template, you can’t write an effective marketing email without defining your most important digital marketing building blocks: customer personas and your value proposition. Know your ideal customers, where to find them and how you can solve a problem for them. Need help? Check out Buffer for how to define a customer persona and Sumo for how to define your value proposition.

Browse the templates for ideas on how to find and engage with prospects. Some examples: Maybe tell them about a broken link on their site and offer better content. Point out a competitors’ negative reviews and say how you can help their company avoid those issues. Notice a question on social media and offer an answer.

Help a fellow cold-emailer out and share what’s worked for you. Hunter invites users to contribute templates from their successful emails. Sharing is digital caring!

Now that you’ve saved time crafting those perfectly worded emails, don’t waste time figuring out where to send them. You can make hunting for prospect emails more efficient with another free tool from Hunter: Business email search and verification. They offer 50 free searches as well as a tiered subscription plan ranging from $49 to $399 per month.

May the Muse of Marketing ever slap you when you need her! But if she’s not cooperating, try out some templates to give her a little nudge.

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Real Estate Marketing

7 ways to maximize your email productivity and reduce clutter

(MARKETING) Emails tend to stack up and make it hard to organize and to find anything useful, here are several apps and ways to make your life easier.

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emails stacking up

Despite the availability of numerous platforms and ways to reach your customers, statistics show, and business experts know, that email still remains the primary tool that businesses use for communication and collaboration. Email is the backbone of productivity, so if you’re looking for ways to increase efficiency and make your job a little easier, optimizing your emails is a great place to start.

Just in time for the holidays, here are seven ways to maximize your productivity when it comes to email.

1) Please, please stop with the no-reply emails. If you haven’t figured it out by now, it’s time you knew – if your customers can’t reply to your messages, it sends the message that you don’t care about them and stymies communication. Instead, create a persona or department that can handle replies to your messages. If you must use a no-reply email, be sure to include contact information for customer service so that a customer can get ahold of you if they need to.

2) Don’t waste time reminding a customer that they have an appointment. Get an intelligent machine to do it for you. Remindr is an app that sends text and email reminders to clients, patients, and customers, reducing the number of no-shows.

3) Turn your email inbox into a to-do list. If you use Gmail, consider trying the app Drag, which helps turn your inbox into a super-organized to-do list by sorting your emails into To Do, Doing, and Complete categories. It makes your email box look a bit like Trello and is more efficient for tasking than using Gmail’s colorful stars system or disappearing messages into folders, only to have them forgotten.

4) Reduce inbox clutter by using a disposable email address when signing up for subscriptions and accounts. AnyAlias lets you create an infinite number of disposable email addresses, all linked to one account so that you can check them all simultaneously, while still keeping your personal email address private.

5) Track the effectiveness of email marketing with Polymail, the inbox that shows you statistics about open and reply rates and creates detailed profiles of all of your customers, among other super helpful marketing tools.

6) Find files in attachments more quickly. How many times have you scanned through pages of your Gmail, clicking on anything with a paperclip next to it, trying to find some long-missing file? Dittach is a Chrome extension that creates a sidebar specifically for displaying information about attachments, as well as a thumbnail preview. Attachments can be sorted by file type or date, making it easier to find files, forward them, download them, or print them. Brilliant.

7) Clean up your digital hoard. With the new year coming up as well, why not go Marie Kondo on your email. Make it easier to find the things you need by getting rid of all those outdated emails you no longer need. After all, digital clutter is still clutter.

Don’t overlook this important aspect of running your business. Chances are you send and receive dozens, if not hundreds, of emails per day, and may also be using your inbox to store and find files, market to customers and manage aspects of your personal life as well. Streamlining your email experience can save you a ton of time, energy, and money, and make your day-to-day tasks more efficient and pleasant.

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