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Lessons Gleaned From Leisure Suits and History.

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Once Upon A Time. . .

People believed leisure suits, contrast stiching and elephant collars made you look cool and tee-refic.

Men and some women believed women shouldn’t vote.

Black, brown and other colors were unequal.

If you were pregnant, it was OK to smoke and drink.  It was also forgivable to drink and drive, as long as you made it home without hitting anyone.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull was as popular, and proclaimed as profound as today’s Who Moved My Cheese and The Clue Train Manifesto.

In sales, sincere questions were answered with a manipulative question — “How much is it?, “How much did you want spend?”

The world was once flat, Kings and Kings ruled, and if you were sick, they’d drain your blood to cure you. Etc.

The list of things once believed, but now disproved and seemingly stupid, grows and grows, and there’s no end in sight. Even today’s new truths will be disproved shortly.  I think this is true because technological advances are accelerating both the discovery and sharing of new experience, knowledge, and understanding.   You can learn just about anything if you Google it. And now, with a few keystrokes, you can ask all your friends and certifiable experts, questions on just about anything – and they’ll answer.  New ideas travel at the speed-of-light now, and it doesn’t matter if we like it or not, or we believe it or not.  It just happens anyway.

I’m not just talking about big world-wide ah ha’s, although there are plenty of those.  I’m talking about our individual and personal beliefs and expectations; how we treat others and how we want to be treated, how we sell to others and how we prefer to be sold,  how we want to be understood and how we strive to understand others,  how we prefer to communicate, how we solve, how we share, and other personal preferences.  I’m also talking about how we use new knowledge, experience, and understanding to succeed in a chaotic, ever changing society.

Today.

We’re living and working in a trust starved, don’t sell me and don’t BS society.  How and where we communicate, connect, prospect, persuade and sell is radically different.  If we approach our business with attitudes and actions based on yesteryear’s fashions and bygone cultural preferences, we’re doomed.  There’s a reason men don’t wear leisure suits anymore.  Same thing applies to outdated business practices.

Here are four examples of what I’m talking about.

One Way Broadcast Blast ~vs~ One-On-One and Crowd Conversation

One Way Broadcast Blasting used to be the only way to go, go, go.  When we had some bragging to do, or an announcement to make, a proclamation to proclaim, we blasted it out; direct mail, fliers, magazine ads, newspaper ads, bill boards, discount offers, banner ads, etc.

Back then, we had to do these things —  a monologue was the best alternative because in-person conversation was time and distance constrained — if we wanted to talk to someone we had to see them in person, or catch them on phone.  Because everyone is busy, this in-person contact and conversation was rare and difficult to coordinate.  So we did the only logical thing, we one way broadcast blasted like banshees.  If we didn’t, nobody knew who we were, or how great we were.  Who ever bragged the best and the loudest usually won, because people believed that if you were famous, you must be better. Back in the day, we used to believe what people told us, and we had no way to verify things or find out for ourselves.

One Way Broadcast Blast doesn’t work so well anymore.  Technologies and societal opinions, knowledge and expectations have changed.  We’ve all become desensitized to marketing broadcast, we’re naturally skeptical and we tune out the self-serving, irrelevant and boringly expected.  Plus today, we can use the internet to check people and things out for ourselves.

Here’s the unhealthy danger, if we cling to the old belief that we can One Way Broadcast Blast our way to success, we’re mistaken.  Sure, smart broadcasting worked like magic back in the day, and it’s still important, but it’s not THE most important thing anymore.  Now broadcasting is a piece of the success puzzle, not the entire puzzle. Equally important, today, if we broadcast unwisely, it’s like punching yourself in the neck.  Not good.

One On One and Crowd Conversation is what’s attractive today.  Conversation is attractive because today, we-the-people want to be heard.  Everyone wants to express themselves and be understood.  We don’t want people to tell and bullshit us, we want people to show us, and prove it.  We don’t care how awesome someone thinks they are, we care that others care about others.   Being heard, and understood, and trusted can’t happen with a monologue, it only really happens when there’s a conversation.  Another way to put it, trust happens when conversation happens – not when one person does all the talking.

Today, technology and social media allows us to focus on One-On-One Conversation.  Social media networks like Facebook allow us to wisely broadcast and converse One-On-One, it also allows us to exponentially expand our conversations to include all of our connections and the friends of our friends (small and large crowds.).  This ability to be heard and observed by everyone is changing everything, in most every business.  It’s a destiny accelerator.  Do it right, succeed faster.  Do it wrong, or nothing at all, you fail faster. It can’t be stopped.  What will you do about it?

Today, time and distance constraints are vaporized by the new network of always on, social media platforms.  Even though real time or in person conversations don’t take place as often as we’d like, because of our built in mirror neurons, we experience online/virtual world conversation and interaction as real, relevant and personal, even though it’s not happening in real time and in person.   When we can’t engage in person, online is the next best thing.  Certainly better than a paper post card or a print ad.  Right?

What I’m doing, and recommending to you is this.  Take a look at the time, money and energy you’re investing in Broadcast Blast type activities and compare them to the importance you’re placing on learning how to use new technology and social media tools to help you build trust, further enhance your reputation, and untimely attract more opportunities to list and sell real estate.   If you have more conversations, instead of chasing opportunities, you can attract opportunities to you.

Chasing ~vs~ Attracting

Here’s what I’ve experienced.  When most successful real estate agents sit down and seriously analyze the true source of their business, they discover that the true source of the majority of their listings and sales is directly attributable to some form of personal relationship; a repeat client, a neighbor, a friend, a tribe member, or a  referral recommendation.  I see this play out time and time again.   This common fact is verified in studies as well. (If you haven’t done it yet, in preparation for 2011, sit quietly and analyze the true-true source of your business. Let me know what you discover.)

The screw-up that most agents suffer from is squandering spending the majority of their resources on activities and actions that generate a minority of your income.  Agents waste spend their money, time and energy chasing people who don’t know them, trust or respect them.  All the while, ignoring the very people who do know them, trust them, and would happily share a referral, if given half a chance (conversation).  I believe chasing strangers is ass-backwards.

What works today is creating attraction.  In the old days, this was hard to do (time and distance constraints).  Today it’s easy and getting easier and more common.  Social media (Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, blogs, SlideShare, Reviews, etc.) allow us mostly-free opportunities to converse, share, collaborate, listen, learn and demonstrate trustworthy behavior, market knowledge and professional expertise.  People trust and choose the familiar.

If you believe that you can explode your business by chasing strangers who don’t trust, know and respect you, and ignore the people who do know, trust and respect you, you’re doomed.  To create trust and attract listing and selling opportunities, we’ll need to replace our old and empty beliefs, with live-wire ones.

It’s not about one way broadcasting, chasing and capturing strangers and leads anymore, it’s about conversation and trust, being attractive and chosen.

Capturing Leads and People ~vs~ Being Chosen

We use some interesting words to describe various business strategies.  I think that’s mostly because sales and business vocabulary and strategy has historically been promoted by men as masculine and competitive in nature.  I’m sure we’d call and view these business things by other names if women had more historical influence in this arena.  Guess what, they do now and old beliefs about business as warfare and winners and losers are being stomped out and replaced. Even so, both men and women are betting their success on outdated and universally unappreciated business strategies.

For example, the concept of capturing leads and people is insulting to the capturee. Period.  If you doubt it, ask a friend, or even yourself; how do you feel about being “captured” by a salesperson?  Nobody wants to think of themselves as a captured and converted lead, or a souless number.  This is earth, not Planet Of The Apes.

Today people want control, not to be controlled. People don’t want to be sold, or captured, or bamboozled, they prefer to choose what’s best for them.  Because of this modern behavior, what works is a focus on becoming choosable.  Instead of chasing, capturing and controlling people , everything we do should revolve around becoming and being viewed as trusted and memorable.  When this happens we become identified and chosen as someone who may be able to solve or satisfy an unfed need or an unmet desire.  There’s a big difference between working with people you’ve captured, and people who’ve chosen you.

The last thought I want to share is about a subtle difference that makes all the difference, the difference between Selling and Sharing and Solving.

Selling ~vs~ Sharing and Solving

Selling is what we do.  It’s an honorable profession, when practiced honorably.  Everything we own and services we use, we bought them.  When we have fears, we buy protection and safety.  When we have a need or a desire, we buy satisfaction and gratification. In most every case, somebody sold us what we wanted.  Yet as a culture, we don’t like to be sold and we don’t trust sales people, especially if we know they’re trying to sell us something. When people don’t like how a sales person makes them feel, they disconnect and disappear.  This of course is a big problem.

If  we believe our job is to sell somebody something, we’ll meet resistance, struggle more, and ultimately fail.  What works today is removing the focus away from what WE are trying to sell (ourselves and real estate), and put a laser focus on what’s important to THEM, and what THEY need, and desire.  In the words of Hugh Macleod, we need to “Sell Less and Do More.”  Which to me means, instead of focusing on selling, simply focus on share solutions that solve peoples problems (safety, satisfaction and gratification).  Like I said, the difference between selling and sharing and solving is subtle, but it will make all the positive difference in your quest for success.

I know it sounds hokey, but in fact it’s a timeless universal sales law.  What Zig Ziglar said way back when is more true now than ever, “You can get everything in life you want, if you’ll just help enough people get what they want.” This path isn’t easy, but it’s the only way.

I May Be Wrong, But I’m Not In Doubt

Our industry and the culture of our country is changing and evolving at a chaotic pace and we must evolve with it.  Just like there came a time to moth ball the leisure suit , embrace equality, and replace manipulation with collaboration and cooperation, now is the time to sit quietly and think about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and decide what we’re doing that needs changing, reinvention and refocus.  2011 is just around the corner.

If you have anything to share, I’d love to hear what you think about these ideas and our future.

Ken B.

PS.  I know this is suuupppeeerrr long, and blog posts are supposed to short.  I was going to break it up into two or four pieces, but then I thought what the hell, might as well get it out there, maybe it will help someone.  So here you go.

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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 BrandCandid.com. 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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45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. BawldGuy

    October 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    First of all, from the bottom of my BawldHeart, thanks so much for the War ‘n Peace post. Sometimes I feel like the Lone Ranger out there. 🙂

    My take on this takes much time and space. It takes a conversation. Aren’t you gonna be in San Diego sometime soon? We have much to talk about.

    • Ken Brand

      October 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm

      No kidding on the War and Peace. When I finished I was thinking “holy crap” nobody will read this stupid thing. But, I thought it was important, so I threw it out there. Also, sitting and writing and thinking helps me clarify and solidify what I’m thinking.

      I’ll be in Cali in March, I’m really looking forward to chatting wit you. I know what you mean, it’s a case of yeah but, except in this instance, and oh yeah, it’s not true if you do like this, or that.

      Like the Dude in Big Lebowski said, “Certain things have come to light man. And, you know, has it ever occurred to you, that, instead of, uh, you know, running around, uh, uh, blaming others man, you know, given the nature of all this new shit, you know, I-I-I-I… this could be a-a-a-a lot more, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, complex, I mean, it’s not just, it might not be just such a simple… uh, you know? ”

      As for your writing, I appreciate the detail, plus your style captivates, educates and entertains. I hope you’re gonna use your stuff in your book. It’d be like a realtors bible.

  2. Michael LaPeter

    October 18, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Ken,

    What would you recommend to agents moving to a new area or state? I’ve come across this problem myself, when I first moved to SF I had a pretty small sphere of people I knew. The common advice is to join clubs/ social networks etc, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on ways to generate business in an authentic way if you don’t already have a large social sphere in the area? I think you’re dead right about providing value to your social sphere, and I’m just curious about your thoughts on initially building that critical mass in a new location.

    • Ken Brand

      October 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      Good questions. I’d definitely go with join some tribes idea. The main thing is, don’t pick something because it convenient or has a good demographic. Join a tribe that does something you really-really like to do, or something you care deeply about. If you do that, you’ll click with the members and good things are likely to happen.

      For more direct action, I’d call on expired listings. It’s hard, and the people you talk to will be angry, but you’ll be talking to people who need help. I’d also hold a bunch of Open Houses, not the lazy kind where you throw a few signs up and pray, but the kind where you create an event. Here’s a link to post I wrote about Open House events. https://agentgenius.com/real-estate-sales-marketing/marketing/what-jessie-james-can-teach-us-about-achieving-sexy-success/

      Critical mass will come from massive personal contact, you have to be out and about, talking to people.

      Good luck Michael, hope this helps.

  3. Sheila Rasak

    October 18, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Beautiful post! The underdog captures my heart when it comes to being cash strapped in a lousy economy. I focus my business on solutions, not problems and validate that this isn’t about me, me, me…it’s all about my client and their needs. I can’t measure the feeling I get when I help just one more homeowner avoid foreclosure and that (generally speaking)the hug I get at the end of the journey with a note saying “Thanks for every email read, phone call listened to and returned, and your valuable focus until we got the job done. We couldn’t have done it without your support”. I may not make a million dollars on the transaction, but it’s always worth a million to me.

    • Ken Brand

      October 18, 2010 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks for the compliment, and what I’m talking about, is what you’re doing. Cheers:-)

  4. Liz Hensley

    October 18, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Great dissertation, Ken! You hit the nail on the head with reminding us that dialogue and conversation and one-on-one networking is the key to building real trust relationships. It’s about quality not quantity of clients. Having a handful of loyal and happy clients and friends will go farther than a lot of random stranger leads.

    Thanks for your blogs. I always enjoy reading what you have to say, and that your way of thinking is more abstract than most. It’s quite refreshing.

    • Ken Brand

      October 19, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks Liz. Yeah, I think that’s the ticket, relationships trumps strangerships all day, every day. Cheers.

  5. Bonnie McCauley

    October 19, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Your comments were spot on. Isn’t personal connection still the way all of us agents want to build our reputation? If not then, they need to go work in the marketing world and stay there.

    Thanks for your direct blog!

    • Ken Brand

      October 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks for the compliment Bonnie. If given a choice, who wants to work with people who don’t know you, don’t trust you and because we’re both strangers, it’s logical that they’ll hold us at arms length. That’s no fun, and it’s a harder way to make a living. Cheers.

  6. Laura Kalish

    October 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Even though you address real estate professionals, the concepts in this article work equally well for other service professionals. Focusing on being a better listener, being sensitive to what our clients/customers need (not our own needs), and being honorable in our dealings are principals that will give us those one-on-one contacts and relationships that are vital to any business. I especially like your explanation of how social networking is individual as well as a crowd conversation. Excellent blog!

    • Ken Brand

      October 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      It weird how people in a people business forget to focus on the people things. Happens all the time, which of course is a very huge opportunity for the clued in. Thans for the feedback and all the best. kb

  7. Mark

    October 25, 2010 at 11:28 am

    “Sharing and Solving” – this is well said! This gives much motivation for your client to come back again and again. THis is the approach my aunt who has been realtor for 25 years has taken. She’s now selling homes to her clients children as she is now 75 years old. Its been proven in her life and is motivating me to become a realtor too.

    • Ken Brand

      October 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks Mark, sound like real estate, sharing, solving and success run in your family. Cheers.

  8. Cynthie

    October 29, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Thanks for this Ken! Now if I can only get one of my “leisure suit” clients to read it. He still insists on printing ads that no one reads, and exclaiming over the top promises about his products.

    Our audiences, no matter the demographic are much more discerning and can get reviews or educate themselves at the touch of a Google. They “aren’t buying it” – literally!

    Sharing and solving is definitely the way to go. Such a nicer M.O.

    You always have the best insight on your blog posts! Thanks again!

  9. Linda Schneider

    July 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I'm going to use some of your great lines to help my clients grasp the distinctions between "traditional selling" and "soft selling." Thanks for your great words of wisdom.

    • ken brand

      July 29, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      I'm glad you found the stuff helpful Linda. Cheers.

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Business Marketing

How ecommerce brands can increase sales, even on tiny purchases

(MARKETING) These tips and tricks are prime ways to boost the dollar amount spent at checkout and close more deals — even on the tiny purchases!

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online sales

There are many marketing techniques aimed at acquiring new customers. Makes sense, right? More customers, more money. But how do you increase sales with your existing customer base? The Average Order Value (AOV) = Total Revenue/# of Transactions. This number is important because it indicates how much each customer is buying. Here are some ways to increase your AOV:

First, it’s crucial to appeal to human nature. People like things for free. So, by setting a minimum to receive free delivery, buyers are more likely to continue browsing and eventually buying, in order to avoid the shipping fee. While we all know that spending $50 when I only meant to spend $37 isn’t ideal, but I’d rather pay $50 for two products, than $43 for one and shipping. It feels like a better value.

Over half of customers will discontinue their transaction when they found out there are additional costs. MORE THAN HALF. Don’t surprise people the wrong way — we don’t like it.

Second, have you ever been to Costco? Ever left Costco with exactly the amount of food you needed? No, of course, you haven’t. The concept of buying in bulk appeals to our sense of value. Oranges are $1.09 per pound but buy a 10 lb. bag and get it for $8.50. Next thing you know, you’re feeding your child’s soccer team as well as the opponents. Offering a discount on package deals and large quantities at least gets your customers thinking about purchasing more.

We all rationalize the need for a good deal. My roommate used to buy two 12-packs of the giant muffins because “They were on sale.” A discount on a package might entice someone who was looking for a little more variety but was hesitant at first.

Next, recommending products is a great way for customers to lay eyes on new things. Not everyone is a browser — some people go straight to a specific section. By using information from previous purchases and browsing history, showing related, best-selling, or recommended products is an awesome way to generate more clicks and potentially increase sales.

Finally, help us lazy people by including a gift-wrapping option at checkout so that people buying remotely for others out of town can send things directly. In order to wrap, they would have to send to themselves, wrap, then send again or deliver to the receiver. The former sounds like it’s worth $6.99 to me!

In conclusion, there are always ways to boost sales with your existing, loyal, customers. If buyers are only purchasing one thing at a time, reflect on why this is. Perhaps a few sweeteners or additional opportunities could lead to long-term growth. Remember human nature and happy selling!

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Business Marketing

A more environmentally sensitive Pantone color of the year

(MARKETING) Why is Pantone’s coral color causing a ruckus? Marketing is just marketing, right? Maybe not…

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pantone unofficial color of 2020

Every year Pantone declares the Color of the Year and for 2019, the institute declared Living Coral to be the “it” shade calling it “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” And it totally is. Imagine bright red orange swimming in a sea of crystal blue water.

Pantone’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman even goes so far as saying it that Living Coral was what “consumers craved” and that it incites “human interaction and social connection” which might be a stretch. It is just a color after all.

However, some found this messaging to be anything but convivial and well, off-color.

Jack Railton-Woodcock and Huei Yin Wong, partners at Jack and Huei, a Melbourne-based design agency, took umbrage with this decision and for good reason.

Their native Australia has front-row seats to the dying of the Great Barrier Reef and for them, coral is anything but lively. If anything, it’s on life support.

To call attention to the tone-deaf decision, the duo preemptively christened Bleached Coral as the Color of the Year 2020.

Touche.

The duo furthered their burn, saying, “It’s the responsibility of all of us, creative or otherwise, to find creative solutions to big problems, and right now there aren’t many problems facing humanity that are bigger than climate change.”

Oof, way to pull back the curtain, guys.

As much of a buzzkill as this pair might be, they’re not wrong, and they bring up the larger question of social responsibility in marketing.

But it’s just marketing, right?

Wrong. The very root of marketing is aspirational. We see ads for luxury cars, we imagine ourselves behind the wheel and believe that maybe we can get there. We see beauty products that promise flawless ageless skin and maybe we decide to take better care of our skin. We see Living Coral and we’re blinded to the reality that the coral just might be a thing of the past.

Yes, Pantone’s Color of the Year is one of those fun end-of-year things we in marketing get excited about, but when you’re living in a world where climate change is our reality and we see it in unnatural weather patterns and the dying off of one of our greatest natural treasures, it’s time to take pause. We can do better.

These days it’s hard to please everybody. Try as we might to make everything for everyone, if we’re going to attempt to talk about a unifying the human race through color, we sure as hell shouldn’t choose a color that reminds us all that our environment is in rough shape and it’s largely humanity’s fault. Bleached Coral isn’t the color we need, but right now, it’s the color we deserve.

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Business Marketing

Genius: How a Yoga studio is using AI to help the masses

(MARKETING) Here’s an interesting case study in how yoga, a 5,000+ year industry is using modern technology.

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yoga

Yoga is everywhere. From small town strip mall studios and big city meccas with guidance from YouTube gurus to Instagram-able practice with goats. If monitoring your breaths and balancing your body is your thing, it’s not out of reach.

However, despite its ubiquity, getting into yoga can be intimidating.

Sure, you’ve picked up a mat at Target, you’ve purchased all the Lululemon pants and Outdoor Voices bras, but actually getting on the mat and moving your body can be overwhelming if you’ve never practiced before.

Well, Would-Be-Yogis, push those fears and worries out of your mind, take three deep breaths and get on the mat, because you’re about to start posing at your pace.

Introducing the YogaBot from Austin’s own Yoga Yoga. It’s a fascinating case study in how a 5,000+ year old industry is using modern technology.

Over the past 20 years, Yoga Yoga has guided thousands of yoga students from their first class all the way through advanced teacher training and now, to help improve students choose the right path for themselves, they’ve created Design Your Yoga.

With the intention of helping new and advanced students achieve their yoga goals, Design Your Yoga is an automated experience that begins on their landing page.

Once you arrive, the bot asks you if you’d like to “Design Your Yoga.” After an initial greeting, the bot begins by getting to know your skill level.

Asking a very straightforward, “Have you done yoga before?” you are then offered nine responses ranging from “Never” to “I am a yoga therapist.”

Once you answer, you are asked further questions regarding what you’d like to achieve from your practice, what styles you’re familiar with, and when and where you’d like to practice among a few others. At the end, the bot will ask for your email address to send you a customized yoga plan. Easy peasy.

Their algorithm has thousands of possible combinations promising to make each yogi’s practice results unique to them.

“For years we’ve been working on ways to better personalize our services to the needs of each individual student. Design Your Yoga is our solution to delivering an exceptional user experience with a plan a student can follow and stick with,” said Yoga Yoga CEO Rich Goldstein.

Landing page bots are nothing new, and more often than not, they’re annoying as hell. However, this one actually seems helpful, which is refreshing.

From a marketing standpoint, Yoga Yoga CMO Marc Lefton said, “As marketers in a city as creative and entrepreneurial as Austin, we wanted to make sure we use every tool we can to bring yoga students the information they need as fast as possible.”

He’s not wrong. It worked. After trying it out for ourselves, we can’t help but be a little more ready to get on the mat. First, we’re going to need to put down the tacos.

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