MyFrontSteps.com Releases Software
Back in August of this year, VendAsta Technologies announced a first round of funding for $3 million for MyFrontSteps.com which is slated as “a social software initiative focused on the home and home services industry.”
The goal of the initiative is to connect people across social networks so they can talk about their home, their home experiences and collectively discover and recommend local service providers for all phases of home improvement from buying to improving to selling. With this round of funding, MyFrontSteps has designed an online reputation builder and manager which will “help consumers find, select and utilize home service providers and gain insight and knowledge about them from people they know and trust.”
According to CEO Brendan King, ”there are a lot of agents, brokers, contractors, developers – you name it – that have done just fine with traditional marketing and referrals. However, in the long term the Internet will have an overwhelming impact on this very same industry. These same players will not continue to be able to effectively function going forward in the next few years without embracing Web 2.0 techniques. MyFrontSteps and StepRep will allow their customers to showcase their products and services via online social networks.”
With $3M, they’ve created an online reputation management tool backed by this marketing campaign (seen below). What do you think?
Chris de Jong
October 17, 2008 at 11:29 am
I have nothing but love for our Saskatoon tech community. It is filled with great people, great ideas, and great companies like Vendasta.
That being said, this video left me a tad confused. Who knows though, perhaps that is what Vendasta was intending – building buzz by quirkiness alone! 🙂
October 17, 2008 at 11:31 am
I think it’s insane – what were they thinking?
October 17, 2008 at 11:40 am
Aside from trying to insult as many people as possible with the video, what exactly is the point here?
I’m able to monitor my online reputation just fine without their help, thanks.
October 17, 2008 at 12:04 pm
As soon as I heard “inbred” and “hillfolk”, I thought there was something wrong with my hearing and had to rewind. Not funny, not cute, not quirky, not effective at all. By the way, this 100% hillbilly found it a poor attempt to engage, insulting, and quite boring.
October 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm
hi guys. this is really really bad. really bad. nothing good about it at all so nothing salvagable. scrap scrap scrap.
October 17, 2008 at 12:39 pm
Ok, so i’m not in the “industry”. As an outsider I feel this is successful because everyone is rewinding and rewatching this horribly concepted video and in turn building more press for this group.
It is another case of someone putting up a video that is a result of a brainstorming gone too far.
October 17, 2008 at 12:41 pm
Looks like they might want to rethink this – a little TOO quirky perhaps?
October 17, 2008 at 12:43 pm
What I find interesting is no one is being specific as to why it should or shouldn’t be changed. Are we being polite, or do we just not like it because it isn’t pretty?
October 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm
Wow. Way to insult the user! Marketing, basic professionalism EPIC FAIL!
October 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm
I’m confused. First off, what do they do? I mean I get what it is, based on Benn’s post and because the monster told me so, but…uh, I still don’t quite get it. Second, why would you use the monster/hillfolk/eskimo thing. I’m so confused that I don’t know what to even think. I went to the site, cause admittedly I’m a curious type and want to understand and know more, but of course, the site is “under construction,” so there’s no real answers there.
Chris mentioned the possibility of building buzz with quirkiness and perhaps that’s what they’re going for, but I can’t say I quite see it…quirkiness (and any marketing hook) needs SOME substance to really draw users. Take me for instance, the “rockstar” thing might catch your attention, but if I’m a lousy agent, it doesn’t matter, I’m not going to surivive. Without substance, I will fail and so will anyone else. Now maybe they plan on some whizz-bang substance, but so far, I don’t see it, so for now, I’m not impressed.
The thing that I feel most confused about? They say that we need to embrace Web 2.0 techniques in order to showcase our products and services. Isn’t that why we’re all here at AgentGenius? Isn’t that why we Twitter, use Facebook, read and comment on blogs, write at ActiveRain, Trulia, and others? Isn’t that what we’re all doing on our own? Maybe contractors and developers will bring with them a client base that are in search of real estate agents (and they will not be a part of our Web 2.0 world) and maybe that’s the hook for us as agents, but until I see how it all actually functions, I feel that it will be just another repository of home information.
If StepRep is to be a source of referrals for us (via social networking) then to me it just sounds like a more real estate-centric LinkedIn, where we connect with new clients based on the fact that a former client is connected to us and had some nice things to say. (Of course, LinkedIn isn’t the only place that we can get testimonials from, I just figured it was the easiest comparison in these terms.)
As a consumer, my opinions of this kind of referral site wouldn’t be very high anyway, as I am pretty skeptical of a lot of the internet, based solely on the fact that I know you can buy your way to the top on many sites or fill out enough phony registrations to “recommend” yourself all you want. I hate to think that people go that far, but I’m a realist on these sorts of issues.
Now of course, having said all that, I welcome Brendan King or anyone else from the company to break it down for me and explain what I might be misunderstanding, misreading, misinterpreting, or plain old missing. I don’t mean to sound so negative, but I really just feel left in the dark after watching and reading.
October 17, 2008 at 1:06 pm
@matt One thing I can add that may help with your perspective Matt, is that this isn’t professional centric, it’s people centric, meaning anyone can do this.
So what’s your take on the video if you’re home seller or buyer? Does this campaign explain enough?
I mean, you did click through to learn more, did the monster do that, or was it just your need to keep up?
October 17, 2008 at 1:43 pm
I think everyone needs to get a sense of humour.
October 17, 2008 at 2:25 pm
I’ve met most of the guys at Vendasta, they are a bright bunch of folks. I’m not sure exactly what Step Rep will be, heck – they – may not be sure exactly.
As for people needing a reputation management tool, I think there is a LOT of need for that. Keep in mind that if you are out there in the blogiverse, reading blogs like AG and participating in social networking you are MILES ahead of what, 90%, 95%, 98% of real estate professionals. *THEY* can use something to help them “monitor, manage and build” their social reputation. So to that end, just because the readers of AG may not need it doesn’t mean no one else does. Reputation management is **huge** and poorly understood by many.
As for the video, I didn’t find it offensive, but then I’m basically unoffendable. An “Appalachian” I talked to yesterday didn’t find it offensive (though they didn’t find it compelling or effective either). Will someone be offended, yep. Is that good or bad? I don’t know — I can’t see where it’s ever a good idea to intentionally offend, and I don’t think that was the intent.
Sometimes things that make me say “WTF”? are effective at getting me to go look at a web site. Obviously Step Rep is still very much in development. Will this generate “pre-release buzz”? Beats me. Maybe. It generated some buzz here.
October 17, 2008 at 2:30 pm
I hope their tech skills are better than their marketing skills.
”there are a lot of agents, brokers, contractors, developers – you name it – that have done just fine with traditional marketing and referrals. However, in the long term the Internet will have an overwhelming impact on this very same industry. These same players will not continue to be able to effectively function going forward in the next few years without embracing Web 2.0 techniques. MyFrontSteps and StepRep will allow their customers to showcase their products and services via online social networks.”
If this defines his target market, then I’m not sure what good the video does. The eskimo hillfolk are probably never going to ‘stumble’ across this.
October 17, 2008 at 2:40 pm
Benn – Yeah, I guess nowhere does it push agent-centric, so I guess that shouldn’t have been part of my thinking necessarily, but as with anything, I assume it would quickly be filled with agents looking to be a part of that sort of home-centric community.
The video itself? I just have no idea what its doing. I would probably assume it was a joke of some sort as I would imagine a company would try to explain what they do a little better than this. I do admit, because I saw it here I was curious. If I saw it while browsing the web on my own? Probably would have passed it up without a second’s thought. The click definitely wasn’t about the monster, but about where it was first shown to me (AG).
Jane – As someone who is never offended and known for being completely un-PC about things (I made a healthy living on that reputation), I know what you’re saying, but if you’re trying to sell a product or service, is this really the way you want to project? Not only were some people offended (and in my experience someone will always be offended no matter how “clean” you are), but we still aren’t really sure what they’re trying to get you interested in. I think that no matter what direction the company takes (ie, they see all this, think “ooops, we better clean this ad up” or they continue on their current path), this is what the phrase “online community” is all about. A place to exchange thoughts and ideas about a variety of topics, good or bad, and speak your mind about them. I personally am a big fan of the web’s ability to affect change, even when the change is something I may/may not agree with.
October 17, 2008 at 2:43 pm
Jay – Excellent point.
October 17, 2008 at 3:28 pm
Recent posts on the AgentGenius blog have really hurt the SpokesMonster’s feelings! StepRep is still in Alpha but we thought we would give you a peek at the SpokesMonster’s StepRep dashboard just to show how badly the negative posts have damaged his online reputation. 🙂
You can check out an Alpha screenshot here: https://steprepblog.com/2008/10/17/spokesmonster-epic-failure/
P.S. Benn, way to force me to give you the inside scoop on our product! 🙂
October 17, 2008 at 7:43 pm
Why the video ought to have been changed – it doesn’t say anything. Even when it talks about what Step Rep has to offer, there’s no substance.
October 24, 2008 at 12:15 pm
Interesting points of view here. I am impressed by the deep insights many of you have applied to this campaign and the points view offered which I find breathtaking given the low standards and often confusing ways in which some of your peers out there in real estate tend to market and message themselves.
Is this insulting? For some, I have no doubt that poking a little fun at our Appalachian neighbors stirs unease. We, as a nation are evolving realizing that we are indeed a great melting pot of races, colors and creeds. Personally, I was less shocked by this having grown up watching shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and The Dukes of Hazzard, which then and now, seem to pass through society without anyone raising a PC hand.
But Jonathan asks, does this video say anything? I would respectfully suggest that it actually speaks volumes about the issues of social grace, social mismanagement and online reputation offered through a video that calls Vendasta’s own reputation into question. Granted it’s a bit subliminal but even after watching it once, it came across as delivering quite a powerful and effective message which is worthy of pointing out.
Granted, this message may seem buried in the haze of a questionable character. But isn’t that their point as a company and the entire notion behind their soon-to-be-released, whenever that is, offering?
For me this is what resonated in high volume. Granted it’s risky. And risque. But that is the making of a good and powerful ad. I am not advocating that offending people is a prudent means of promotion but this isn’t a random act of offensiveness. It seems quite calculated meant to illustrate what happens when you misstep online and the potential hits your reputation might encounter.
I for one would hope that they present more ads like this and complete the story arc because like Jonathan said which I do agree with, there is no visceral substance. They need to take this campaign forward and tell the entire story.
If not, at the very least, it did what all great ads do — got people talking.
November 4, 2012 at 12:22 am
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