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How people are thinking creatively to make it through COVID-19

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) People and businesses are extremely innovative and resilient in tough times – here are some examples of stuff you can now do online!

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online during COVID-19

The last couple of weeks have brought us lighting speed changes in news and information and a really abrupt adjustment to life with the pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19). While some of the swift cancellations of large events, travel, in person workshops or conferences, and then changes in our day to day (oh now everyone works online remotely?) has driven some of us to the liquor store or to hoard toilet paper, others have found ways to quickly provide new solutions to their clientele or adjust their business to the new reality.

A great example is of an Airbnb host in Detroit who decided that after losing 2 months of income in 72 hours that why not offer their beautiful spaces (with a desk area and coffee!) for those who may need a remote place to work and/or lost their co-working space. They quickly pulled together a way to offer day passes – but they didn’t stop there. They brainstormed other ways to promote their locations and “reached out to all the local hospitals and Facebook groups in case traveling nurses or traveling PT’s need a place to stay. Again, you have to get creative if you’re a small business. You don’t get a bailout!

Artists across the board from DJs to painters to late night talk show hosts have created content to engage those who may have children at home and/or are not ok with social isolation and need some interactivity to help lighten the mood or laugh a little bit. Many restaurants/bars/service industries moved quickly to either utilize online ordering platforms (or quickly figure out how they can take payments online) so that customers can still order food/beverages via drive-thru or stop and go pick up.

Mo Willems Is Hosting Free Online “Lunch Doodles” While Kids Are Home From School

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon has been doing 10-minute hilarious clips from home with his wife and small children helping to film and be his “design department”

Live Streams and Virtual Concerts via Billboard

Museums and world famous institutions have provided tours or live feeds for children to watch from home. Check out these penguins that got a tour of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago thanks to the coronavirus.

Tech companies have also stepped up their services to help with educators who are away from their students and parents who have lost school and daycare. Zoom announced free video services to K-12 schools and insisted this was not time to profit on this disaster. Facebook quickly pulled together information and resources for schools who will be out for a while. LinkedIn Learning selected some classes to offer free to help folks learning new skills in working remotely to stay productive and adaptable.

It may not be easy to quickly move in to being okay with this situation. It will affect and hurt many people and we all are aware that we don’t know in all the ways just yet. These are just some examples of quick movement to adjust and help some turn lemons in to lemonade (with or without vodka, your choice).

Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

Real Estate Marketing

Steal this Apple marketing method to crush your competitors

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apple copy

Apple is a $2 trillion monolith of a company, and for countless good reasons. One of the primary reasons is their powerful marketing – one could argue they’re more famous for that than their actual product. Alex Garcia has a clear and concise guide to the process Apple uses to create compelling website copy, and it’s something you should absolutely try in your next round of marketing.

Garcia, a known marketing expert, breaks Apple’s copy down into 13 distinct techniques, the majority of which can be lumped into 3 categories:

  1. Appealing to customers
  2. Appealing to experts
  3. Appealing to the algorithm

Like any good marketing scheme, the majority of Apple’s techniques fall into the first category, but the overlap between these groups is what makes Apple’s copy stand out.

When appealing to customers, Apple tends to make things as simple as possible, sticking to a modern adaptation of the phrase “less is more.” This is a process that involves anything from rhyming (yes, seriously) and using alliteration all the way to creating short, energetic sentences that place the reader in the driver’s seat.

Apple also likes to focus on specific product details – edgeless screens, faster chips, camera abilities – as individual selling points, complete with supporting images. In theory, this makes it easier for the consumer to keep track of the benefits of the product.

And that energetic copy, often stemming from short sentences with the words “you” and “your” appearing organically, always accompanying those product details.

For what Garcia identifies as “scanners,” the most impressive information comes first (and uses the largest font), with the rest of the information following an “inverted pyramid” format in which details taper down from largest benefits to smallest benefits.

Apple’s overlap between experts and consumers is similarly notable. For the casual consumer, mentioning the new chip speed or information about the retina display on an iPhone stands out as impressive. And for experts who know how to read the specs they’re seeing, that first impression means just as much. Apple’s inclusion of those specifications in their copy (often in finer print than the bold, consumer-oriented headlines) makes all the difference.

Finally, search algorithms can flawlessly index Apple’s marketing copy due to copious use of keywords (words that don’t feel like keywords to the average consumer) in order to ensure that Apple products are recommended to as many undecided would-be buyers as possible.

Make no mistake: Apple has a metric truckload of other reasons for their success, many of which are well-outside of the grasp of most companies. But their marketing copy, and the confidence with which it is implemented, is something from which any business can learn. Before your next marketing push, consider how you’re appealing to all three categories, while your competitors only consider one (consumers).

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Real Estate Marketing

6 logo design trends that will instantly boost your branding

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Outdated branding can be a big red flag to anyone viewing your website or social media – check these logo trends to improve yours for 2021!

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Logo design sketches being drawn on paper and hands pointing to various designs.

When you click a website or open a marketing email, nothing (and I mean NOTHING) is more discouraging than a sloppy or outdated logo. It’s the first thing a consumer equates to the quality of the goods or services being offered. In short, if your logo looks like it was designed using Windows 95, it doesn’t matter how good your product is – no one’s going to believe you.

Here are 6 current logo aesthetic trends that will give your branding new life:

1) Minimalist design
A timeless aesthetic. Classy. Clean. Minimalism gives the viewer less to scrutinize and is an easy way to achieve professionalism. The best part is you won’t have to update every couple of years when trends change.

Pro Tip: Try using sans-serif fonts, as well as thin lines and clean geometry.

2) Custom Fonts
I LOVE seeing custom fonts. We’re all used to Helvetica, Poppins and – God forbid – Papyrus. When a logo is made with a familiar font, it’s too recognizable – and feels like an 8th grade made it.

Pro Tip: You can go nuts with custom fonts, but make sure to keep it legible. What’s the point of a cool logo if people can’t read it?

3) Gradients
Everyone’s doing color gradients this year (think: the Facebook Messenger app icon). Gradients are eye-catching and make the image appear to be 3-D. They will also certainly not be going out of style in 2021.

Pro Tip: Make sure your selected colors print well before committing to them.

4) Text destruction
Use psychology on your potential consumers! A logo that’s unfinished or has a letter is missing will likely have viewers fixated and try to mentally complete it. This means instant attention on your brand!

Pro Tip: Don’t go over the top – you still want it to be recognizable.

5) Planned chaos
Twisted letters, random geometric shapes, and more! 2021 is a year that is inspiring some out of the ordinary designs that look interesting and sophisticated.

Pro Tip: I keep stressing this but it’s true – have fun with it, make sure it’s understandable, especially for this trend.

6) Balance
On the other side of the spectrum, balanced, orderly logos are trending right now. If you want a symmetrical and clean logo to give your brand a grounded feel, try a balanced approach.

Pro Tip: While they are inherently professional, these kinds of logos can become boring pretty easily. I recommend adding a little zest of some kind to work in tandem with the balanced-ness.

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Real Estate Marketing

Whoa! Better check Google Street View before listing a property

(MARKETING) Before you list a property, there’s one unexpected factor to check: What does it look like on Google Street View? And is it blurred out?

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Bird's eye view of neighborhood homes on Google Street View.

So, you’re ready to list a property.

You’ve got the tower of documents signed, photos and videos uploaded, and the sign with a QR code and fliers in the front yard, where the landscaping has been meticulously tidied up. Take a breath… then think about one more thing you need to do.

What does the property look like on Google Street View? More importantly, is it even visible or is it blurred out?

Homeowners have the ability to tell Google to blur out photos of their homes. They might do it for privacy reasons. Some people just don’t like the idea of anyone in the world being able to see their homes. Some might do it for personal safety, say, in a stalking situation. Or there might be information that’s too revealing, or a person whose presence could be embarrassing in the photo.

Whatever the reason, you want to know whether the seller or a previous owner asked Google to blur the property. Prospective buyers might see it and wonder what’s gone on there. Is it a crack house? Did some kind of violence occur? Were the windows at one time covered in tin foil?

You want prospects to imagine living happily in the home, not imagining something out of a bingeable TV crime drama.

But there’s a problem: Once Google agrees to blur a house, it’s permanent. They’ve deleted the photos. They’re not going to send out the car or the person wearing a backpack with the 360 cameras again to photograph that property.

But don’t give up on perfection just yet! Here are some possible workarounds:

Direct prospects to another search engine such as Bing, which has its own Street View function on its maps.

Try to upload a user-generated photo to Google Street View (Caveat: We have not done this, but it seems like it’s worth a try). Google allows user-generated photos to be uploaded into Street View according to their image policy. (To do your own 360 photos you would need a specific type of camera, which Google lists. Those are in the $4,000 range). However, we could not find any mention in their privacy policies or Maps’ terms of service that specifically say what will happen if someone uploads a photo of a property that has been blurred. Hey, no risk, no reward, right?

Ask Google for help. A search through Google’s user forums on this question offers little hope that a human will respond to an inquiry, but who knows? The Google gods just might look upon you with favor.

In any case, be ready to answer questions about why the property does not show up in Google Street View. A straightforward “A previous owner asked Google to blur the photo because of privacy concerns” should probably do the trick. Everyone understands privacy concerns in the digital era.

Your job is to offer as much transparency as possible while making sure your client’s property is presented in the best light. Checking out Google Street View is just one more detail that will ensure both of those happen.

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