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Learn how to expand your brand from CrossFit’s cult success

(EDITORIAL) CrossFit has been criticized heavily, but perhaps this spotlight of negativity makes fans even stronger in their resolve that they’ve made the right choice. Your brand can do the same.

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Once upon a time, three of the top 10 posts on publishing platform, Medium.com were about CrossFit – much of it negative, some positive, but more importantly than the popular topic is the fascination behind the brand.

Noting that nearly one third of all popular posts were focused on the camps for and against CrossFit, I wondered to myself what lessons businesses could learn and how they can build their own bulletproof cult? Dedication, shaking off haters, and empowering consumers appears from the outside to be their success formula in expanding from one “CrossFit box” to an international sensation.

When this editorial was first published in October 2013, the following three posts on Medium were in the top 10 most popular (you should take some time to read all three for the best level of insight on the topic):

  1. Why I Quit CrossFit Jason Kessler, which spawned…
  2. CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret by Eric Robertson (the #1 post), which appears to have inspired…
  3. Why Do People Hate CrossFit? Kevin Lavelle

I read every single one of them in fascination. In full disclosure, I’m not into CrossFit, but friends who are CrossFit loyalists ask me all the time why I’m not involved, and the answer is simple – I have extensive joint damage from various injuries, and I already use the foam roller every day just so I can do a normal workout. In short, my body can’t take it. Sure, I’m on the same Gold Standard Whey Protein as the CrossFit folks, and I have a nutritionist and personal trainer, so I’m not against working out at all – I have no horse in the CrossFit race.

So why even write about CrossFit?

Because from the outside, it looks like a cult, and my friends in CrossFit all think I’m a moron for not giving it a shot. It’s not a cult, it’s just something people are excited about. We’re all that way.

For example, at the grocery store, I play Tetris on the conveyor belt with grass fed beef, organic berries, and raw almonds, but I silently plead for the person in front of me to change their ways as they load up on Doritos, Hi-C, and hormone-filled ground chuck (“don’t they know what they’re doing to their bodies!?” my brain screams, “don’t they know they can eat well on nearly the same budget!?!”).

But it’s not just fitness, it’s any industry.

If your favorite designer is Chanel and you’re obsessed with high fashion, you’re going to judge the girl wearing KMart garb – that doesn’t make you a fashion cult member. If you are a productivity junkie, who has streamlined every second of your day, you’re probably judging the guy in your office who has a 1984 dayplanner with post-it notes falling on the ground when he opens it (the same guy that’s always late). Alternatively, if you’re a couponer, you probably cringe that someone in a retail store is spending full price – what an idiot, right?

See? We all have affinities that we’re willing to judge others on.

Your brand is no different.

Regardless of the professed dangers of CrossFit (and I’m not endorsing it by any means – I’m pretty sure I’d literally die if I did CrossFit, and you might too, according to the founder), the brand has spread like wildfire with hundreds of thousands of loyalists, and even a major competition covered by ESPN with hundreds of major sponsors.

So how does your brand emulate CrossFit?

Maybe there’s something about your brand that others (competitors?) criticize publicly. Maybe your fans are bored and unwilling to go to bat for you. Perhaps no one has a reason to care about your brand.

It doesn’t matter what your brand is, you can get people as enthusiastic as the CrossFit enthusiasts. Seriously. I know you’re thinking in your head “but I’m a real estate agent, what’s exciting about that?” Tons!

First things first, you need to circle the wagons. Know who your fans are, or create them. How? While there are thousands of articles on this topic, the easiest way to explain is to find who is interacting with you most frequently, either online or offline.

CrossFit circles the wagons not only through building a tight-knit team environment at their facilities, but their main website is jam packed full of resources for anyone interested in CrossFit all the way to those who are veteran CrossFit competitors. Forums, online journals, blogs, videos, and more are available to help people to learn, and with that information, they are armed with what it takes to defend their being a fan of CrossFit. They’ve built a strong community, both digitally and offline.

Is your website filled with materials that people can learn from, and does any of it give consumers a reason to circle the wagons around your brand? Have you built a community worthy of people getting excited about, interacting with, and committing to memory so that they understand how your brand works better than any other?

I challenge you to try this.

Evaluate your website, your social media presence, and all of your marketing. Does your marketing say, “we sell things and stuff,” or does it explain why you’re disruptive, and why you’re rocking harder than anyone else? Is your language enthusiastic and fan-worthy, or is it dry and boring? I would speculate that 99 percent of all business rhetoric isn’t worthy of the fandom CrossFit has created.

Just because you’re in real estate doesn’t mean your offering has to be dry and outdated or look exactly like every other real estate website on the planet.

After evaluating your brand, step it up a notch. Try something new. But above all, I want to issue a challenge to you – anywhere in your company that you witness complacency, snuff it out, whether it is in print marketing, the appearance of your desk, or your assistant’s attitude.

Give people a reason to judge others for not choosing your brand – it’s human nature, as people naturally defend their choices by criticizing anything opposite that choice. It’s the secret ingredient of loyalty.

Complacency is your enemy, and it is what will sink you. With a tremendous amount of effort, perhaps someday, your brand will elicit as strong of a response as CrossFit has.

Real Estate Marketing

Twitter considers adding paid “premium” subscription

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) In a bid for relevance, Twitter announces their intent to pursue exclusive, paid “premium” features.

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Most people would probably agree that paying for social media isn’t a choice they would make, but Twitter makes a compelling case with their announcement regarding premium accounts.

Twitter, a social media platform with a pretty tumultuous history, is considering implementing a paid premium access feature–and, while premium access wouldn’t be required in order to continue using the platform, it seems that Twitter has packaged quite a few desirable upgrades into that “premium” tier.

Whether or not Twitter plans to add premium accounts in the near future is still unknown, but some users have encountered a survey that asks for feedback regarding paid features. Among those features are custom background colors and fonts, an “undo send” option, the ability to upload longer videos, and even an option to see fewer ads.

Many of these features are cosmetic–for example, freedom to add a Twitter-curated badge that identifies you or your company–but some of them do serve the purpose of making premium account owners more powerful on the platform. Being able to upload longer videos is clearly an impactful upgrade, and Twitter’s survey even mentions a tweak wherein business members would be able to access a premium member’s account in a limited, secure manner.

Another aspect of premium accounts could include a “menu” of responses that companies could choose from, making customer service and outreach that much easier.

With the addition of these latter three features, premium accounts could become prime real estate for small businesses and online-based firms–something that has traditionally been more of Facebook’s forte.

It’s prudent to note that nothing is confirmed as of now, and the features listed in the survey may not appear in the final iteration of premium accounts even if premium access is added to Twitter in the future. However, it does seem inevitable that Twitter will roll out some form of premium subscription given that they both hired a team specifically for a similar feature, and mentioned their intention to move forward with subscription options to investors.

Twitter hasn’t exactly been a cash cow as of late, and with many of the social media platform’s initiatives falling flat in the past, no one has been expecting much in the way of growth from the irreverent bird app. A premium subscription for even a handful of users might be the push Twitter needs to become relevant again, both to users and advertisers.

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Real Estate Marketing

Why you should quit using ‘no-reply’ emails immediately

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a real estate practitioner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Real Estate Marketing

Boomerang Kids and a shift in the American family

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Millennial student debt combined with the effects of the pandemic is causing a whole generation to move back home.

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The last decade has seen a significant shift in expectations for the young adults of America. In the early 2000s, a shift started for people coming out of college – those wracked with student loan debt, those getting job offers with limited starting salaries, or those getting unpaid internships to get their careers started. I remember personally having to go through thirty interviews in 2009 during a recession, just to get a basic position in the oil industry. It left me scrounging to make ends meet while also paying my student loans. Luckily, renting from friends and living in a house with three roommates allowed things to reach an equilibrium with finances. Living in a house full of friends became a new normal for many other individuals who couldn’t rely on someone else’s income.

Others however, took a different tact and moved back in with their parents. This action became so common in the 2010s that they were named the “Boomerang Generation”. Now, due to the pandemic, this trend has seen an increase. According to The Atlantic, “A recent analysis of government data by the real-estate website Zillow indicated that about 2.9 million adults moved in with a parent or grandparent in March, April, and May”.

Moving back in with family allows for a number of a mix of inconveniences and perks. One of the main perks includes being able to pay off loans without having to worry about rent or even bills in some situations. A Twitter post by a young privileged woman brought about a great deal of rage from her generation: She was able to pay off six figures in student debt in five years by moving in with her parents but when she decided to let people know about it through social media, she definitely went about it the wrong way – she called out people like it was simple logic to have your parents let you move in and also have them pay for all your bills, while you devote your entire salary to paying off your loans. A more unreasonable demand I hadn’t heard up to that point.

This latest economic depression has certainly forced untold numbers of people to revert to moving in with loved ones even more. And it’s not just millennials. To facilitate survival within family units, siblings of multiple generations are coming together. This shift in family dynamics will probably have a large impact on housing availability and costs in the future.

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