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Business Marketing

If There’s A Double Dip, What’s Your “Plan B”?



What If…

I know.  I understand, the depth, breadth and pain, depends on your local market place.  Wherever you are, It’s been a damn long slough.

Do you think we’re on the road to recovery?  I wish we were.  I hope we are.  I fear we are not, and I need a Plan B.

5 reasons “Plan B” goes into effect tomorrow.

  1. The unfelt effect of shadow inventory is coming.
  2. Then, there’s all those people who haven’t been making their mortgage payments.  Instead, they’ve been living rent free and spending their money on other things, which is temporarily boosting the economy.  I’m not making a judgement about that, I’m wondering what happens when the banks catch up and all these people have to start paying rent?  What effect will that have on the economy, consumer confidence, consumer spending, etc.
  3. While mortgage rates remain low, qualifying fire-hoops for people and properties to jump through remain hot and high.  I don’t see these turning favorable anytime soon do you?
  4. The Tax Credit pushed future qualified buyers into the present, now the pool of future qualified buyers is half empty.
  5. Sales Units/Volume are not rising in tandem with historical summer selling patterns.

The pie is smaller and it’s not growing this year.  Period.

What’s your Plan B.

My Plan B

I remind myself, the only things we can control are our actions and attitudes.  We can’t control the actions and attitudes of others. At our team meeting tomorrow, here’s what I’m sharing.

  • Evaluate our marketing/business expense.  Stop spending superstitiously.  If marketing and promotional campaigns aren’t generating verifiable referrals, prospects or suspects, stop it now.
  • Evaluate personal spending and consciously categorize everything:  I Want. ~vs~ I Need.  Nice To Have. ~vs~ Mission Critical.  Investment. ~vs~ Expense.
  • Keep our heads up, our minds open,our attitudes confident and our work-ethic strong-like-bull.  Remember, whining, fear, anxiety, anger and negativity repel opportunity.  In troubled times, leadership, confidence, humor and showing up, attracts opportunity.
  • Refocus on high leverage activities.  Shift time and effort from chasing strangers to in-person and on-purpose contact and conversation with people who already know and trust you.
  • To help stay focused, use this Checklist Daily.

Success, Grace and Speed

As you know, there are only so many things you can do to position yourself for success.  If the market continues to change and we don’t, bad things happen.  Anyway you slice it up, the sooner we get started, doing the right things, with the right people, the faster we’ll find success or simple survival.

Today we’re talking about it.  Tomorrow, we’ll start to do Plan B things in earnest.

How about you?  What’s Your “Plan B”

What do you think will happen in your local market?  Do you have a Plan B.  I’d love to hear what you’re thinking and especially, what you’l be doing different.

Thanks for reading.  Cheers.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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  1. Genuine Chris Johnson

    June 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Shiver me timbers! Some brilliance here!

    Work, repetition, effort. Whoda thunk it.

    • Ken Brand

      June 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks Chris, this is not time to think we’ve made it and or summer will save us. Only we can save ourselves. If we start today, we have a chance, if not, RIP.

      Cheers to sweat soaked, action oriented, achievers. AKA as 2011 survivors.

  2. Erica Ramus

    June 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Now you’re scaring me.

    • Ken Brand

      June 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm

      Yeah, I’m scaring myself. Reality check, if summer slips away and it sucks, it’s too late to adjust for winter. I can hear the Jungle Drums.

  3. BawldGuy

    June 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Ken, the more you write, the more I think we’re cousins. 🙂

    Plan B at my place began in the 1st quarter of last year, a six month plan just now about to have its rubber hit the asphalt. Fear? If one’s not at least jittery by now, they’re either blissfully ignorant or naive beyond help. Sorry if that sounds mean spirited, as it’s not my intention. Most of the RE online world writes now about the upward movement in prices. They’re what I call the SLCs — SilverLiningChasers. They refuse to believe their lyin’ eyes and ears. 🙂

    My firm’s Plan B demonstrates the built-in advantage I have over my house-agent peers. I’m returning to my local market in San Diego after over six years away so as to convince investment property owners to Get Outa Dodge while the gettin’ is still good. This will not only serve the firm’s revenue stream well, but put many local investors on much higher/safer ground when the tide goes against them here, as it surely will. Where’s the advantage? I can empirically demonstrate to investors they’re far better off moving their equity(s) to regions offering demonstrably superior performance — read: CASH FLOW. In other words, I can create business where none existed, AND bring real measurable value to the table while doing so.

    Also, The Boss, by the end of the year, may have the only retail operation around that’ll be debt free. I’ve shown her the real estate template which she’s now implementing as quickly as is safe. By next year’s 1st quarter she’ll be funding all operations via profits — what a concept. The income will grow more slowly, but the flexibility will skyrocket.

    There are other things I’m doing on the real estate brokerage side, but this ain’t the place. Those without Plan B’s ready to implement, or for that matter, already in execution, will surely be among the group who’ll soon be wondering, “What happened?!”

    • Ken Brand

      June 21, 2010 at 8:28 pm

      BG – I’ve been playing in pretty cool, but shoes keep droppen, and the noise down the hallway keeps getting louder, and schriller.

      Time to make a quick run to the John, lace’em up tight, and hit the field running. I’m not worried or scared, I’m concerned and on high-alert, with my head and my business plan on a swivel.

      It really is Go time my friend(s).

  4. Matt Stigliano

    June 21, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    @kenbrand – The usual kudos to you for a great article. That goes without saying (even thought I just said it). Love the plan, love the idea of preparing (if you’re wrong you’ll be even more prepared), and knowing your wordsmithery, I have to say this is one of your most easy to follow and understand posts ever. Having said that, don’t make it a habit, I relish in reading your more weighty mind-bending posts.

    What I love the most? The daily checklist. I’ve never seen one that actually accounts for activities outside of the human realm (ie the internet/social media). To me, this is a good concrete example of how all of those things (face to face and keyboard to keyboard) can be used to reach the goals. I know you wouldn’t waste paper on them otherwise. I do have one change to suggest: under Facebook you can create a “# of mobsters gunned down or vegetables raised _______________” – print this in red ink.

    Although I try to avoid too much negative thinking, as some may see this, I think this is just smart business. Plan for the worst and you’ll be prepared for everything else.

    • Ken Brand

      June 21, 2010 at 8:41 pm

      Thanks Matt, you make me smile and laugh and think.

      One of my biggest flaws and thing I enjoy the most, is the odd ball way I explain things. I know it’s often hard to read and sometimes the dots don’ts all zen-up and connect, but you know how its i, you gotta say it like you feel it. Some of those weird ones took hours to write them weird like that. In this particular case, I wrote it fast because I wanted to get it out there now, as I was preparing to share the same at tomorrows team meeting.

      And you’re exactly right, like everything else in real estate, things are rarely, really about the thing there’re about, it’s about the impact on all the other things that orbit around the thing. It’s Gestalt stuff. Which is to say, it doesn’t matter if good or bad things happen, if you double your efforts and have a Plan B, you’re prepared and positioned to make things happen.

      Cheers Matt.

  5. Susie Blackmon

    June 22, 2010 at 5:44 am

    Being forever the optimist, I enjoy and appreciate every new day, even now! However, your ‘concerns’ are right on, IMHO, and I ‘hear’ there could be a food shortage in the near future to deal with, so it’s not all about the realtors and real estate… it could be about more important things, like survival. I’m working on Plan B already, recently making my escape out of Aaaargh, NC to horse country (Ocala) in Florida, where there is life and vitality; albeit, not in the RE industry at the moment. Scary times but exciting times. Maybe this bloodletting will, organically, RTB in real estate. In the meantime, just let me find an RV to survive in, which should be exciting in hurricane alley.

    Love your writing, Ken.

    • Ken Brand

      June 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      Thanks Susie. I think I can deal with a choppy real estate market, a food shortage sounds like a recipe for chaos. Let’s hope not. In any event, keep the faith and what ever you do, tie the RV down tight. Cheers.

  6. Doug Francis

    June 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    It is an interesting market as I see so many agents stretched thin… with low numbers and slugging it out to stay in business. The reality is that your plan-B is going to be the new game plan for a while.

    Humor, personally, is how I get through things but this recession has given me little to laugh at. And I really have to work at remaining positive!

  7. Dunes

    June 22, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Just in case anyone feels it’s relevant..
    “Visits to websites in the real estate category during May were down 24.3 percent from a year ago — the 12th consecutive month of year-over-year traffic declines dating to June 2009, the report said.”

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Business Marketing

Hear me out – Google Alerts but for Facebook Groups

(TECH NEWS) Groouply is a new App that helps you find out what people are saying about your business in facebook groups, even closed groups



Facebook groouply

Mike Rubini, an Italian developer focused on a portfolio of software-as-a-service offerings, recently announced the launch of a new Facebook tool, Groouply.

(Note: Groouply is not to be confused with the educational forum Grouply, the community management app Grouply, or the now-defunct company Grouply, which developed social networking and online forums for small businesses.)

Groouply lets you monitor Facebook groups for keywords of your choosing. Depending on how it works, this could be a big deal. There are plenty of online trackers. In fact, there are two or three distinct industries built on collecting and processing the vast amounts of information we generate online. SEO, social media management, and big data processing have all developed into large industries with their own dedicated firms, tools, language, and (in big data’s case) terrifyingly powerful hardware.

But so far, Facebook Groups haven’t been a point of focus. You can check search engine results pages, Reddit, Hacker News, Twitter, and public FB posts. But automatically notifying a user about specific mentions in FB groups is something new. The developer claims the tool can even collect data from closed groups.

The potential applications for this are striking. You could get a sense of who’s talking about your company, and what they’re saying. You could make course corrections based on how you’re perceived. You could learn about potential markets you hadn’t considered yet. You could step in to discussions about your company to correct misconceptions. (You could also get dragged into some pretty unprofessional arguments, if you aren’t careful. It is Facebook, after all.)

You pick a group and a keyword, as well as the frequency of your email updates. Options shown in the demo video include daily and hourly. Once you’ve set up the account, the company takes 1-3 days to set you up on the back end, and then you’re good to go. At the current pricing, a $99/month account lets you track 10 keywords across 5 different groups.

Some folks have raised concerns. People have inquired about how the tool collects the data, wondering whether it’s compliant with Facebook’s terms of service. Others have expressed hesitation over the price. Paying $99/month for online marketing tools isn’t unheard of. The popular SEO research tool ahrefs charges $99/month for their basic package, and claims that their $179/month package is their most popular option.

But ahrefs offers a week-long trial for $7 so you can test-drive the service. They’re also running a robust, proven service. Your $99/month gets you 500 tracked keywords, updating weekly. It also gets you keyword reports and batch analysis, backlinking alerts, and 10,000 pages’ worth of site audits.

Groouply’s arrival has generated some buzz. When it launched two days ago, it became the #4 Product of the Day on the tech forum Product Hunt. Depending on what happens next, it could fill a much-needed niche in the social media marketing toolbox.

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Business Marketing

Accessibility to your website could make or break your brand

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Some companies are making sure their websites have more accessibility, and are creating design tools that help simplify the process for other designers.



accessibility design

In August, The American Genius reported that Domino’s Pizza had petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a case it had lost in the Ninth Circuit Court, in which the court ruled that the pizza chain was required to improve the accessibility on their website to blind and visually impaired users.

Last month, SCOTUS declined to hear the case, maintaining the precedent that the standards set forth by the American Disabilities Act (ADA) apply not only to brick-and-mortar business locations, but also to websites.

The decision was a major win for disability rights advocates, who rightly pointed out that in the modern, internet-based age, being unable to access the same websites and apps that sighted people use would be a major impediment for people who are blind or visually impaired. Said Christopher Danielson of the National Federation of the Blind, “If businesses are allowed to say, ‘We do not have to make our websites accessible to blind people,’ that would be shutting blind people out of the economy in the 21st century.”

Although legislators have yet to set legal standards for website accessibility, the Domino’s case makes it clear that it’s time for businesses to start strategizing about making their websites accessible to all users.

Many companies worry that revamping websites for accessibility will be too costly, too difficult, or just too confusing given the lack of legal standards. However, some forward-thinking companies are going out of their way to not only make their websites more accessible, but to create design tools that could help simplify the process for other designers.

A great example is Stripe.

If you have an online business, you may already be using Stripe to receive payments. Designers Daryl Koopersmith and Wilson Miner take to the Stripe blog to detail their quest to find the perfect and most accessible color palette for Stripe products and sites.

Color plays into accessibility for visually impaired users because certain color contrasts are easier to see than others. But making Stripe more accessible wasn’t as simple as just picking paint swatches. Stripe wanted to increase accessibility while also staying true to the colors already associated with their brand.

Our perception of color is quite subjective; we often instinctively have strong opinions about which colors go well together and which clash. To make matters even more complicated, existing color models can be confusing because there is often a difference between how a computer mathematically categorizes a color and how our eyes perceive them.

Koopersmith and Miner give the example that if the human eye compares a blue and a yellow that have the same mathematical “lightness,” we will still perceive the yellow as the lighter color.

To achieve their goal, Koopersmith and Miner created new software that would adjust colors based on human perception and would generate “real-time feedback about accessibility.” In this way, the designers were able to adjust Stripe’s pre-existing brand colors to increase accessibility without losing the vibrancy and character of the original colors.

Not every company can afford to hire innovative designers like Koopersmith and Miner to create new tools every time there is an accessibility challenge. But Stripe’s project shows gives us reason to be optimistic that improving accessibility will become steadily more … well … accessible!

Disabilities rights advocates and designers can work synergistically to set standards for accessibility and create comprehensive tools to achieve those standards. In our highly visual age, it’s important to ensure that no one is left behind because of a visual impairment.

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Business Marketing

10 inspirational print brochure examples

We believe that print is nowhere near dead, it is just changing as things go digital, and only the best stand out.



Below are 10 inspirational print brochure examples that show print is not only alive and kicking, but when infused with a bit of creativity, can make an enormous impression. Gone are the days of horrid clip art and walls of text that overwhelm. Clean typography and design are the name of the game, and added flair can go a long way. Here are some ideas to get you started, click any of the images below to see more photos of each campaign and to dig deeper:

Craft Beer Field Guide

With this fold up brochure guiding Madison’s Craft Beer Week attendees, a vintage vibe is created through color and typography choices, with an emphasis on function and ease of reading. The guide is so enchanting, it is likely that most attendees kept the brochures, a dream for any designer or marketing team!

Italian Loft Brochure

In this Italian Loft Brochure, a classic Tiffany & Co styled blue and chocolate brown highlight the features of this luxury loft community, and is presented in a beautiful, heavyweight cardstock cover that keeps all additional papers that come along with tours. It’s more than just the brochure’s design, it’s the presentation, simplicity, and choice of materials that is eye catching about this print brochure.

Campaign for Freedom

Expressing the dire situation in North Korea, this campaign brochure uses simple to digest infographics and keeps to four colors – black, white, red, and yellow. It is effective for sticking to the point and using bold graphics.

Gourmet Natural Foods

Retailers often go overboard either by offering too many walls of words and facts, or by trying to be clever. Instead, this company’s design focuses on the simple ingredients that goes along with their streamlined, organic-looking containers. This brochure makes you want to go start eating hippie food, even if you’re a cow eater, just because it’s so aesthetically pleasing!

Graphic Designer Portfolio

When a seasoned graphic designer shows off, you can be sure that their presentation will never be an aged headshot of them with bullet points of their accomplishments. No, graphic designers show instead of tell, as below:

Typefamily Brochure

When introducing a typefamily to the world, a designer can choose to slap up a website, or go the traditional, and more elegant route of printing a type booklet explaining the type and giving buyers of the typefamily (font) a closer look at what they are buying. Brilliant.

Yahoo! Brochure

Yahoo’s brochure is a reminder that simple design elements can go a long way – a folding tab, white space, ditching clip art, and keeping consistency between pages all work in harmony to create a quality print brochure.

Antique News Format

In a very clever move, this commercial and residential space is being sold in the form of a large, folding antique- looking newspaper, complete with appropriate fonts and an antique layout, with surprisingly sharp and never cheesy images.

Architect’s Timeline and Story

Promoting an architect’s impressive timeline and story, this print campaign shows the power of red, black and white, making a dramatic impression at a quick glance. Using high quality photography and traditional movie poster tricks, the campaign is stunning.

Our Favorite: Lennar’s Old School Fun

Lennar’s new “Spencer’s Crossing” community brochures got a touch of old school, making the brochure a game that anyone can play. It’s more than a gimmick, it is consistent with their collateral that appeals to the youthful nature of the product and area.

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