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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.

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Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Real Estate Marketing

Simple weekly emailer curates your stats across social networks

(MARKETING) If you are overwhelmed or turned off by massively granular stats, getting a simple email weekly about your social media stats could be a meaningful tool for you.

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You already know that building a brand (for yourself OR a brokerage) is a lot of work. There’s not only fierce competition, but there’s a lot of ground to cover.

A huge portion of that ground is being present on social media. This doesn’t just mean consistently posting content that is important and relevant to your brand, but it also means keeping tabs on who is following you and engaging with said content.

That’s why Metrics Coffee is here to help. With this new tool, it helps you keep track of your social media metrics by sending you a detailed email to your inbox every Monday morning.

So, how does it work? First, you enter your email to register (the first month is free, woot woot!) and then you attach all of your social media handles to your account.

Then, every Monday morning, you’ll receive an email from Metrics Coffee with a detailed look at your personal metrics. It’ll show the number of followers on each specific platform, and how much your follower count has gone up (or down) within the last week.

Platforms that it currently tracks are: Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, ConvertKit, and ButtonDown. If there’s a platform that isn’t included that you’d like them to track (we would suggest LinkedIn as it is overtly missing), you can request that they integrate said platforms.

“I recently become an independent developer (quit my job!) and started making courses and conducting workshops. I get most of my audience from my twitter and YouTube channel, so I’ve become more intentional about building an audience, said Metrics Coffee maker, Siddharth Kshetrapal. “[I] started tracking [the metrics] with pen and paper along with my morning coffee, but I would forget doing this all the time! Realized I need it to be a push not pull. And that’s why I built this product! It keeps a track of my social accounts and sends me an email every Monday; including my tiny newsletter.”

Much like one needs their Monday morning coffee, Metrics Coffee is designed to give you a rush of adrenaline and inspiration that will help you start your work week. It’s such a simple concept that we wonder why this hasn’t been around for a decade already.

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Real Estate Marketing

Some folks hate retweets – let’s discuss their hidden value

(MARKETING) Retweets suck, but not as much as people are whining about – let’s take a critical look at this emotional topic.

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If your social media marketing campaign is even remotely well-rounded, you’re probably privy to the dumpster fire that is Twitter nowadays. Retweets and all. While it may be tempting to mute accounts with which you disagree, avoid specific hashtags, or even remove all tweets from your feed, there are a few benefits to staying in the loop—no matter how painful.

Retweets are essentially the trail mix of social media posts – you’ll get an M&M every once in a while, but you’re more likely to run into a bunch of salty raisins.

Unfortunately, retweets are also crucial in determining both your competition’s movement and your product’s success, making it tactically important to keep an eye on them.

Primarily, using RTs to monitor your competition’s progress without having to interact directly with their page is necessary for any perpetual multi-tasker.

Virtually all Twitter-geared analytics will take into account retweets mentioning your defined parameters, but being able to see and respond to these retweets as they unfold allows you to stay on top of any developing circumstances while never straying from the Twitter app or site.

Being able to respond to tweets and retweets via either comments or quotes is another invaluable aspect to keep in mind. Consumers love it when brands respond to them, and their primary reaction to doing so tends to be to retweet the response in question. This ensures that others see your response, and, invariably, someone will have a question or a comment regarding your take; if you can’t see quoted retweets or keep track of your current retweets, you’ll miss out on following up with such encounters.

If you think of retweets as marketing research that’s being hand-delivered to your feed, they’re suddenly a bit less nefarious.

Of course, if you absolutely can’t stand seeing the pure, unadulterated BS in your feed, there are ways to avoid it: there is now a script to remove all RTs from your feed, and you can mute specific accounts to prevent them from showing up at all.

However, doing so misses the overall point – inclusivity and awareness, no matter how annoying, which beats out self-affirmation in an echo chamber any day.

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Real Estate Marketing

How to make sure a client actually reviews you online

(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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sentiment analysis

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 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 improving 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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