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Midtown’s empty offices could be turned into affordable housing

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) With remote work quieting Midtown, there are plans to create affordable housing in Manhattan’s high-income business neighborhood.

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New York Midtown, where office buildings may turn into affordable housing

Since the start of the pandemic, Manhattan’s business districts have become something of a ghost town. With almost no one going to work at the office — or going out to eat or drink after work — entire blocks that were once busy and bustling have become empty. With so many New Yorkers currently struggling to pay the city’s famously high rent prices, this begs the question of whether or not Midtown should be rezoned – should some of the city’s (now obsolete) high-end office buildings be converted into affordable housing?

As someone who has always wanted to move to New York (but also values having affordable rent!), this potential rezoning plan sounds utopic. Imagine: A live-work-play neighborhood with fantastic transit, top-notch restaurants that cater to locals, and all the amenities you’d imagine for a residential area in NYC. I’m packing my bags as you read this.

And yes, it may seem far-fetched to reimage Midtown as a place to raise your family if you aren’t multi-millionaires, but, at this point, the city is trying to be creative.

Since September, only 10% of New York’s workforce has returned to their Manhattan offices. Essentially, office and hotel buildings (the former being notoriously easier to convert into affordable housing than the latter) have been collecting dust – and they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, as work from home has proved itself to be a viable, economically sustainable option.

Historically, there have been major tax breaks for commercial-to-resident conversions, as was seen in the mid-1990s 421-g program, which revitalized Lower Manhattan. This is part of the incentive for developers, who would ultimately be rewarded for taking a risk during the economic uncertainty COVID-19; building permits in NYC during the first half of 2020 have hit historic lows.

And that’s not the only incentive. Did you know that many of the city’s older buildings still run on steam heat, which is extremely inefficient? Converting these buildings into residential units would result in a massive environmental win for the city, as they would need to abide by the city’s strict new building code. Cheap rent for me and lower emissions for the city? Sign me up!

It will be interesting to see how the city ultimately decides to react to the COVID-induced ghost-townification of Midtown. I do believe, however, that the vain in which they decide to rebuild will be defining of the next decade of NYC. The city will never die, that’s for sure. How it continues to live is the question.

Anaïs DerSimonian is a writer, filmmaker, and educator interested in media, culture and the arts. She is Clark University Alumni with a degree in Culture Studies and Screen Studies. She has produced various documentary and narrative projects, including a profile on an NGO in Yerevan, Armenia that provides micro-loans to cottage industries and entrepreneurs based in rural regions to help create jobs, self-sufficiency, and to stimulate the post-Soviet economy. She is currently based in Boston. Besides filmmaking, Anaïs enjoys reading good fiction and watching sketch and stand-up comedy.

Real Estate Marketing

Proof that influencer marketing actually dates back hundreds of years

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…

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influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Real Estate Marketing

The best kept secrets of using the right colors in your marketing

(MARKETING) Simplistic assumptions about colors aren’t necessarily true when it comes to choosing a color for your brand, website, or marketing campaign.

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Woman with colored nails typing representing colors used in marketing.

You may have heard that red is the color of passion, that yellow is a happy color, and that orange makes people hungry. But a detailed analysis of the available research on colors and marketing, compiled by Gregory Ciotti, reveals that these simplistic assumptions about color aren’t necessarily true or useful when it comes to choosing a color for your brand, website, or marketing campaign.

How important is color, anyway?

The way that different people respond to colors can’t be dumbed down to simple associations. Our personal experiences, likes and dislikes, the culture we were raised in, and the context in which we see the colors all influence how we respond. These factors are complicated and ever-shifting, so don’t trust any kitschy infographics that tell you that pink means cute and white means pure. It’s just more complicated than that.

But is there any research to help marketers make smart choices when it comes to color? Of course. Most of the studies show that color makes a big impact when it comes to marketing.

In fact, one study showed that 90% of first impressions of a brand were based on color alone.

Studies have also shown that people respond more strongly to brands whose logos are immediately recognizable, and color plays a big part in that recognition.

It’s more complicated than you think

But it’s not as simple as certain colors evoking certain feelings. It has a lot more to do with whether or not the color seems to “fit” the product. You’ll sell yourself short if you choose a color based on some arbitrary notion that it evokes a certain emotion. Instead, choose a color that reflects your brand’s personality.

Also, be sure to choose a color that differentiates you from other brands. If your color scheme looks too much like your competitor’s, you won’t stand out.

There is some research indicating some gender differentiation when it comes to color preferences – but remember, gender is highly specific to place and culture, so these broad generalizations apply to the Western world, but could change easily over time and may not apply in other countries. However, generally speaking, Western men and women both like blue. While women like purple, men generally don’t. Men are more likely to select products in their favorite colors, while women are more open-minded to a wide range of colors, and to lighter shades of their favorite colors.

Tips you can bank on

For marketing materials and websites, keep in mind that contrast can make a huge difference. One study showed a 21 percent increase in conversions after a website changed the color of its “get started now” button from green to red. But the increase isn’t because red in and of itself is so powerful – conversions likely increased because the rest of the website was green, making the red button stand out more than ever.

For websites, it’s a good idea to have a base color, then a contrasting accent color that draws attention to actionable items.

Finally, studies have found that consumers prefer descriptive names for colors to plain ones. “Sky blue” will sell better than “light blue,” and people prefer “mocha” to “brown,” even when the color itself looks exactly the same.

In a nutshell, when it comes to color, don’t rely on simplistic stereotypes. Think about your brand’s personality, and choose colors that will help you stand out.

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Real Estate Marketing

The modern-day horror story of no-reply emails (hint, don’t use them!)

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may be easy to set up and distribute for customer service, but it may actually be creating a problem with a simple fix.

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emails ugh

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 business owner 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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