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Blogging: A Time Suck or Sweet Sunshine?

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Time Suckage

Blogging isn’t the Holy Grail, a magical Silver Bullet or a Savior.  For some, it really is a time-suck, a distraction or a poor idea.  For others, it’s like Sunshine for Sweet Success.

Sunshine for Sweet Success

Think of everything you do to attract, uncover and discover listing and selling opportunities as your personal real-estate-business-solar-system.

You and your blog sit at the center of your business-solar-system.  The planets and moons in your business-solar-system are the networks, tribes, niches and online communities that orbit around you.  I’m talking about your In-Real-Life (IRL) spheres like past clients, suspects, neighbors, your Bunco crew, Yoga classmates and other places you live, love, play prospect for business.  Additional planets and moons in your business solar system are the online communities you share and interact with.  For example Facebook.com,  LinkedIn.com,  Youtube.comSlideShare.comTwitter.com, Flickr.com, etc.

Because competing real estate agents live and work within common solar systems, it’s important that you position yourself as the MMIC (Main  Mistress In Charge) of your solar-system.  Authoring a blog is like owning the Sun for your real-estate-business-solar system.  When you own the Sun, you rule.  Like our real Sun beams sunlight to all the planets in our solar system, your blog beams  your personal brand of sunlight to all your important prospecting communities, tribes, niches and networks. The intensity, illumination and warmth of your sunlight is determined by the quality, relevance and frequency of the things you share on your blog.  If you’re beaming sweet sunshine and your competitors aren’t, you’re going to win, right?

Your blog is where you can show (instead-of-tell) others who you really are and what you’re about .  What you stand for and against.  How knowledgeable and helpful you are and the emotional and logical reasons why someone should choose you to help them with their real estate needs.   You accomplish all these things by sharing stuff on your blog (aka creating sunlight).  Specifically, shared stuff includes things like; neighborhood news, photos of neighborhood parks, Festivals and Art Shows, real estate market updates, local restaurant reviews, answers to commonly asked real estate questions and the like.  If you’re sharing and your competitors are not, you have a advantage, right?

Another blogging bonus, once you hit the “Publish” button on your blog post, your “Share” becomes part of the Online-Information-Ocean and becomes sharable via  perma-web-link.  Once you’ve shared (published) something on your blog, you and your friends and friends of their friends, can now rebroadcast-share your stuff (sunlight) around the inter-webs and within your/their social circles (planets and moons) using your perma-web-links.   For example you and others can share and cross-post your permalinks with your/their tribes on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, email, etc.  This is what ReTweets, Facebook Likes, Shares and Comments is all about.

Your blog also provides you with a powerful opportunity to further enhance your online presence by incorporating share-tools in your blog posts.  I’m talking about using share tools like Flickr.com for photos, SlideShare.com for presentations and Youtube.com for video – all for free.

Bottom Line

Blogging beams your personal shade of sunlight to your IRL spheres, networks, tribes and niches.  As a bonus, it makes your stuff sharable by others.  Which is a beautiful thing.  Of course their are other compelling reasons to blog too.  Blogging makes you Findable, Discoverable, Sharable, Choosable and Referable.  In my next share, I’ll expand on the Findable, Discoverable, Sharable, Choosable and Referable idea.  Till then, grace, speed and success.

PS.

I was wondering what you think about blogging?  If you do, what keeps you doing it?  If you don’t, why not.  Like I said at first, I know it’s not the right idea for everyone.

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 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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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. David Pylyp

    February 7, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Writing a great blog!
    Having people comment!
    Engaging your perfect target audience!

    Never answering their phone calls or emails, Priceless!

    The point of all this is to make the phone ring; we are in a belly to belly, provide the details show the Property business. When your phone rings, answer it. It is a prospect holding up their hand saying “Help Me Please”

    Living in Toronto waiting for my phone to ring with referrals
    David Pylyp

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 9:50 am

      I hear you, it’s like baking a bunch of cupcakes, but forgetting to add frosting. To win these days requires connecting all the dots. Thanks David.

  2. Eric Hempler

    February 7, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I think if you really want to leverage your blog correctly it takes a fair amount of time out of your day.

    Story ideas come from everyday experiences, such as making calls, door knocking, open houses, deals going great or going wrong, etc. After you get the idea you want to write it down somewhere and then expand on it later. Then there’s the last component of the post, optimizing it for search. If you put all of the steps together it does take some time to write a post. So I guess I’m not that surprised if top producers don’t blog. Although, I still think it’s a great addition to your business because you’re demonstrating your knowledge and expertise a lot more than what a website can do.

    (Even writing this comment took a little time. I wanted to make sure I put some thought into it.)

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 9:57 am

      I’m with you, it takes time. Stephen King, yeah that Stephen King said, “Writing is refined thinking.” We don’t get much time to sit and think these days, authoring a blog provides that quite-time-thinking that crystalizes our thoughts, beliefs, angels of approach, etc. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not doing it right. I can spend 5 or 6 hours on one blog post. Not all at once, but over time with rewrites, edits, deletes, start overs, adding and crystalizing my thoughts.

      Then again, sometimes and some subjects flow like water. I’m thinking the way to tackle the time issue is to not necessarily add a new time suck commitment, but redirect time that’s currently wasted on things or activities that don’t work so hot. And let’s face it, there are very few real estate agents who are working 50 – 60 hours a week. If you want to earn 100k+ it’s hard to do in 20 – 40 hours.

      The universal law remains so, the people winning are doing what others won’t.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment Eric. Cheers.

  3. Greg Lyles

    February 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I think blogging acts as a “silent salesman”, enabling others to find out about your level of expertise – and to some extent, your personality, before they engage you one-on-one.

    If you’re looking at blogging simply as an SEO tactic, or you’re not a gifted writer, I believe there are easier ways to go about it. For example, using your smartphone camera to take photos that are posted via posterous.com. You’ve always got your phone with you (don’t you?) so taking pictures of new listings in your area, neighborhood attractions, etc. can also serve to establish your knowledge of the market.

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      You’re right on the money Greg. Great points. Thanks

  4. BawldGuy

    February 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    All activities in our business take time, some more than others. Results, or lack thereof tend to dictate what survives. It’s always seemed nonsensical to me when folks say blogging takes so much of their time. Compared to what? They wouldn’t be considering a blog if their current efforts using other strategies were producing adequate, you know, results.

    I liken farming, that is, knockin’ on the same doors each month, with blogging. Slowly but surely they got to know me in the 70’s when I farmed. I got invited in for coffee, a donut, and conversation on cold, damp days. After awhile the neighborhood more or less thought of me as ‘theirs’. The experience has been eerily similar for me with blogging. I have folks tell me all the time how they’ve been readin’ me for months, even years, then ‘bam!’ something I wrote, maybe a strategy, maybe a case study, hits ’em between the eyes.

    It all takes time. It either produces results or it doesn’t. Your banker doesn’t know how you earned your money. He just knows you’re there a lot — or not.

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      Too true. When you’re a cool person, in real estate, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, it breed trust and connection – which leads to being chosen and referred – which leads fatter bank books. Cheers.

      PS. Knocking on doors was so easy. I marched up and down the hills of Bay Park and it worked as reliably as the sunrise…as long as I did too.

  5. MH for Movoto

    February 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Blogging in thoughtful, readable ways definitely is a time commitment. When you create and curate a blog, you’re basically creating an artifact/time-capsule/hand-print in cement/whatever you want to call it. It’s a static record of your/your company’s thoughts and attitudes at a given moment in time – in fifty years or so, well-known blog archives will be like the fossil record of the internet age.

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

      It’s an amazing time. Imagine people 100 or so years from now wanting to delve into the family tree/history. It’ll all be there, text, video, pictures, audio – everything. I’d love to do that for what was going on 100 or 200 years ago, wouldn’t you?

  6. Liz Benitez

    February 8, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I think my blog falls under the discoverable category and not the sunshine one. Right now I am just hoping to become more findable. I enjoy it so I continue. Maybe someday I will be sunshine 😀

    • Ken Brand

      February 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      Being discoverable is HUGE. I believe that every blog post is like sunshine, so whenever whoever is reading your blog, they’re sun bathing in your shared stuff. The more you share, the more findable you are….keep on keep’n on. Thanks Liz. Cheers.

  7. Cindy Marchant

    February 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Ken, I normally write fairly lengthy comment here on AG; but your blog says it all well. For me it is sunshine…I’ve been blogging for three local communities for years and it doesn’t take much time at all…15 minutes to write it. And best of all, it forces me to become the expert in my area. I can tell you how many houses are listed right now, how many we sell in a year, what the price per sq ft is, how many sold in January of 2010 and 2011, etc…the list goes on. Why? Because I write about it every month. And best of all (really best of all this time)…there is nothing more thrilling than hearing, I’ve been reading your blog and want you to help me find a home in “x” city.

    Guess it is still a lengthy comment!

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible; if your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Put LinkedIn Groups to work for your brand

(MARKETING) LinkedIn may feel like a grandparent’s wonderland, but it still yields power for your company, and the secret sauce is in the LinkedIn Groups.

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LinkedIn Groups have a bad rap. Often times, they are filled with useless information, people you don’t actually want to connect with, and for businesses, look like they offer less value for broad engagement.

However, the way we market to consumers on LinkedIn is different.

In the way that Twitter and Facebook give us the broad audience exposure, and Instagram engages the consumer in a creative way, business should think of LinkedIn as a forum, the online place of meaning.

A place for meaningful connection that can generate business, new employees, partnerships, leads, and even research! Sharing content creates meaningful engagement with your audience (and for entrepreneurs, that meaningful connection is your competitive edge – FYI). You can also use that group to generate ideas and learn more about your demographic.

Creating a LinkedIn group isn’t hard – it only takes a few simple steps.

1. Go to LinkedIn.com/groups (and login to LinkedIn).

2. Click “My Groups.”

3. Hit the “Create Group” button.

4. Breathe, the easy part is over.

5. What’s the goal of the group? A user group? Engaging with brand ambassadors? A way for you to find leads? Sharing ideas? Collecting data? Think about that so you know what content you’re going for.

6. You need to make your group a good place to be, so encourage welcoming posts. Propose an introductory post (share your name, how long you’ve used a product or service, and how it benefits you, for example).

7. Set group rules that facilitate professional and meaningful interactions (and hold people to it).

8. Engage with comments and messages to create meaningful relationships with the purpose of your group.

9. Read LinkedIn’s tips on growth – always think of how to use this tool.

10. Brush up on best practices.

11. Maintain the group – it’s part of your job now, leader. And not managing well hurts your brand, and you don’t want that.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool, and LinkedIn Groups aren’t the grandma way to engage your people. We want meaningful contacts on LinkedIn, and you want to build a reputation as a thought leader and a meaningful engager.

So get a group started, run it properly, and don’t treat it like another public page. It’s all about the value here, friend!

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Business Marketing

What skills do marketers need to survive the AI takeover?

(MARKETING) Quality marketers are constantly evolving, but getting your head around artificial intelligence can be a challenge – let’s boil it down to the most relevant skills you’ll need.

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When Facebook and Twitter were born, a new era of social media was ushered in, opening the gates for new areas of expertise that hadn’t existed before. At first, we all grappled to establish the culture together, but fast forward a decade and it is literally a science with thousands of supporting technology companies.

So as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over marketing, doesn’t that mean it will replace marketers? If you can ask your smart speaker in your office what your engagement growth increase was for your Facebook Page, and ask for recommendations of growth, how do marketing professionals survive?

Marketers will survive the same way they did as social media was introduced – the practice will evolve and new niches will be born.

There are 7 skills marketers will need to adapt in order to evolve. None of these are done overnight, but quality professionals are constantly grooming their skills, so this won’t be stressful to the successful among us. And the truth is that it won’t be in our lifetime that AI can quite process the exact same way a human brain does, even with the advent of quantum computing, so let’s focus on AI’s weaknesses and where marketers can perform where artificial intelligence cannot.

1. Use the data your new AI buddies generate.

In the 70s, the infamous Ted Bundy murders yielded the first case that utilized computing. The lead investigator had heard about computers and asked a specialist to dig through all of their data points to find similarities – a task that was taking months for the investigative team. After inputting the data, within minutes, they had narrowed their list of suspects from several hundred to only 10.

We’re not dealing with murderers here in the marketing world (…right, guys?), but the theory that algorithms can speed up our existing jobs is a golden lesson. As more AI tools are added to the marketplace to enhance your job, experiment with them! Get to know them! And continue to seek them out to empower you.

Atomic Reach studies your content and finds ways to enhance what you’re delivering. CaliberMind augments B2B sales, Stackla hunts down user-generated content that matches your brand efforts, Nudge analyzes deal risk and measures user account health, and Market Brew digs up tons of data for your SEO strategy.

See? Independently, these all sound like amazing tools, but call them “AI tools” and people lose their minds. Please.

Your job as a marketer is to do what AI cannot. Together, you can automate, do segmentation and automation, beef up your analytics, but no machine can replicate your innate interest in your customers, your compassion, and your ability to understand human emotions and predict outcomes effectively (because you have a lot more practice at being a human than the lil’ robots do).

2. Take advantage of AI’s primary weakness.

As noted, you have emotions and processes that are extremely complex and cannot be understood by artificial intelligence yet. Use those.

How? Compile all of the data that AI offers and then strategize. Duh. AI can offer recommendations, but it cannot (yet) suggest an entire brand strategy. That’s where you come in.

And more importantly, it cannot explain or defend any such strategy. One of the core problems with AI is that if you ask Alexa a question, you cannot ask how it came up with that information or why. This trust problem is the primary reason marketers are in no danger of being replaced by technology.

3. Obsess over data.

AI tools are young and evolving, so right now is the time to start obsessing over data. What I mean by that is not to use every single AI tool to compile mountains of useless data, but to start studying the data you already have.

The problem with new tools is that marketers are naturally inquisitive, so we try them out and then forget they exist if they didn’t immediately prove to be a golden egg.

Knowing your current marketing data inside and out will help you to learn alongside AI. If you aren’t intimately familiar, you won’t know if the recommendations made through AI are useful, and you could end up going down the wrong path because something shiny told you to.

Obsess over data not by knowing every single customers’ names, but be ready to identify which data sets are relevant for the results you’re seeking. A data scientist friend of mine recently pointed out that if you flip a coin five times and it happens to land on tails every time, AI would analyze that data and predict with 100% certainty that the sixth flip will be tails, but you and I have life experience and know better.

Staying on top of your data, even when you’re utilizing artificial intelligence tools will keep you the most valuable asset, not the robots. #winning

4. Don’t run away from math (no wait, come back!)

One of the appeals of marketing is that math is hard and you don’t need it in a creative field. But if you want to stay ahead of the robots, you’ll have to focus on your math skills.

You don’t have to go back to school for data science, but if you can’t read the basic reports that these endless AI tools can create, you’re already behind. At least spend a few hours this month on some “Intro to Data Science” courses on Udemy or Coursera.

5. Content is God.

We’ve all said for years that content is king and that feeding the search engines was a top way to reach consumers. You’ve already refined your skills in creating appealing content, and you already know that it costs less than many traditional lead generating efforts and spending on content is way up.

Content can be blogging, video, audio, or social media posts. Artificial intelligence will step in to skyrocket those efforts, if only you accept that content was once king, but is now God. What is changing is how customized content can be. For example, some companies are using AI tools to create dozens of different Facebook ads for different demographics, which would have taken weeks of human effort to do in the past.

Because content is what feeds all of these new smart devices, feeding your brand content effectively and utilizing AI tools to augment your efforts will keep you more relevant than ever.

6. Get ahead of privacy problems

Consumers now understand what website cookies are, and know when they’ve opted in (or opted out) of an email newsletter, but to this point, humans have made the decisions of how these data choices are made. Our teams have continually edited Terms of Service (ToS), all done not just with liability in mind, but to offer consumers the protections that they want and have come to expect.

But AI today doesn’t have morals, and consumer comfort is not a factor unless humans program that into said AI devices. But it still isn’t a creature of ethics like humans are. Ethical challenges going forward will be something to stay ahead of as you tap into the AI world. Making sure that you know the ToS of any tool you’re using to mine data is critical so that you don’t put the company in a bad position by violating basic human trust.

The takeaway

You’re smart, so you already knew that the robots aren’t taking your job, rather augmenting it, but adding AI into your marketing mix to stay ahead comes with risk and a learning curve. But seeing artificial intelligence for what it really is – a tool – will keep your focus on the big picture and save your job.

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