Recently in Personal Web Site/VOW Category

The hottest housing market: Information

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Michelle Singletary:

In the real estate world, there was one word that used to be the cardinal rule: location, location, location.

Just about anybody -- the informed and uninformed -- could buy a house in a good location and easily make money by flipping, selling or refinancing the home, sometimes after just a short ownership.

That was then, before the Great Recession.

This is now, and the new cardinal rule of real estate is information, information, information.

"For decades, the real estate industry has operated under the principle that the less information buyers and sellers have, the better it is for agents, lenders, title companies, and all the other folks who eat from the trough," writes Ilyce Glink in "Buy, Close, Move In: How to Navigate the New World of Real Estate -- Safely and Profitably -- and End Up with the Home of Your Dreams." "But the real estate tide seems to be turning, as the housing and credit crises of 2008 have heightened awareness in Washington, D.C., and on Wall Street about the catastrophic consequences of a closed information loop."

I have no doubt that many professionals in the real estate industry will take great exception to Glink's observation. But the evidence is on her side. We ended up in one of the worst housing market collapses because far too many borrowers were uninformed, ill-prepared and overly optimistic about potential gain because of bad information they received and gladly embraced.

The Profit and Peril of Mashups

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What is a "mashup"? According to this wikipedia entry, "In web development, a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service."

Real estate brokers and agents may wish to take advantage of "free" internet api's (application programming interface). Websites such as flickr, facebook, youtube, yelp and many others offer programatic interfaces to their data and media.

What are the benefits of such API's?

  • Aggregate local information around properties for sale or rent.
  • Enhance your website "experience".
  • Avoid the cost of collecting and managing local information.
What are the costs and risks of using such API's?
  • Bad data. Automated information aggregators often lack local expertise. Information may be outdated; a long closed restaurant may still have a review on your website.
  • Inappropriate content. I created a Facebook demonstration for a client some time ago. The resulting page included an advertisement for Filipino Girls.
  • What motivates the data aggregator? Is their strategy aligned with yours?
  • Does the data make your site more generic?
  • Competitive stealth advertising on your site. Savvy competitors will figure this out and place their content on your site via the API's.
What are the alternatives to "mashups"?

Your agents have a wealth of local market knowledge. Hire or appoint a "blog-o-spondent" or "blogger-in-chief". This person creates and aggregates your own content (text, audio, video, maps) on your blog, around your website(s) and via appropriate social networks. Over time, agents and staff post directly and incorporate your listings, services and our unlimited use maps (for a fixed price). Create your own platform that emphasizes your brand. This approach improves recruiting, retention and internet marketing in ways that you control and at a much lower cost than traditional advertising.

Main Street reliably supports the tools you need, from blogs, dynamic short links, lead management, surveys and multimedia to market reports and live charting tools.

As always, there is no "free lunch".

Viral Video Marketing: Pop Goes the Critic

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Eric Asimov:

WHEN the refined British wine writer Jancis Robinson joined the frenetic Gary Vaynerchuk last fall on his video blog Wine Library TV it was as if Helen Mirren had shown up on an episode of "Dog the Bounty Hunter."

As Mr. Vaynerchuk began shouting his greeting into the camera as if he were hawking cap snafflers at 3 in the morning, the ever game Ms. Robinson could not help but look appalled. But she hung in there, and together they began tasting wine in the informal studio above Wine Library, his family's wine shop in Springfield, N.J.

As they sniffed a 2006 Ridge Geyserville zinfandel, or "took a sniffy-sniff" in Mr. Vaynerchuk's parlance, Ms. Robinson said she detected the aroma of violets. Mr. Vaynerchuk said it smelled "very candylike."

Ms. Robinson grimaced.

"To me, candy is a negative thing," she said. "Candy is something I get on cheap zinfandel."

"In my mind," he responded, "candy, you know, depending on the candy, for example, Big League Chew or Nerds, could be tremendous, whereas candy I don't like, like Bazooka Joe bubble gum, could be a problem."

Brokers and agents can create and publish audio and video podcasts. Useful topics might include: local market activity, new developments, interesting homes, recent transactions, home ownership tips, core services (mortgage, relocation, insurance and home warranty) and recruiting opportunities. Main Street's CRM, podcast and blog tools can quickly get the word out to your world, and beyond. Our CRM tools can quickly generate informative seller letters, postcards, eNewsletters and eCards to your entire agent & company database. One system, Main Street, makes this easy.

Is 4% Enough For You?

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Jay Deragon:

Many firms try and dominate their market via sales. They think sales is largely driven by the number of customers they can acquire.
Scott Morgan writes:
Budgets continue to be slashed. Brands are disappearing. Media is getting more fragmented. The only thing getting bigger is our federal deficit. So as a marketer, how do you capitalize on a world that is getting smaller in so many respects?

What marketers are starting to discover is that the target universe is smaller than originally thought. So small, in fact, that 4% of a brand's consumer base is driving most of the business. This deeper dive into audience targeting is what I call the 4% Factor. Simply stated, it is another level down from the typical 80/20 rule of prioritizing (80% drive, 20% of the business) because, well, everything is getting smaller.

So what do you do about it? Embrace it. Start thinking about ways to employ addressable media, digital media, one-to-one marketing and, of course, social media to reach that core 4% of consumers who have the greatest propensity to identify and recruit others to your brand franchise.

The 4% Factor goes well beyond a loyalty strategy -- it is a penetration strategy -- designed as a competitive approach to protecting and growing your business. Simply put, start smaller to get bigger faster. It also tends to be a much more sustainable approach than traditional strategies of casting a really wide net, going through trial and then hoping to retain a percentage of new customers.

Real Time Information Execution Benefits

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Don Sull:

Execution starts with when a team or organization forms a shared understanding of the market situation. A start-up's business plan and an established company's strategy are both examples of what I call mental maps, shared models that represent reality and serve to guide action. Mental maps can range from detailed plans in thick binders to a simple insight sketched on a cocktail napkin. Differences in form should not obscure similarity in role-all mental maps represent the environment, highlight important variables, and suggest a way forward.

Even the best mental map is an imperfect representation. Mental maps can only incorporate current knowledge, and exclude new insights that will only emerge in the future. Maps simplify a complex reality, thereby ignoring potentially important variables and interactions. Competitors will go out of their way to exploit blind spots in any map. We know only one thing about our maps with certainty-they are flawed.

How can leaders update imperfect mental maps as circumstances shift? An important part of the answer lies in collecting the right type of information. Along with my co-author Stefano Turconi, I have been studying the type of data required to map a situation in flux, and identified four critical attributes: The best information is real time, unfiltered, shared, and holistic. My next few posts will discuss each in turn, beginning with real time.

Main Street, a real time internet system for agents, clients and brokers, was designed from day one to be your comprehensive information source. One, real time system is an asset (arguably your most valuable asset) that allows your organization to implement and execute new initiatives faster than brokerages mired in information spaghetti. Related: Both sides now.

Personal Agent Web Sites

Main Street's real time, personal agent web sites including the following key features:

  • Your Brand, Not Ours, unlike many vendors, we do NOT place our logos & links all over your site or in our urlʼs

  • Fast Loading

  • VOW; Real Time, not a separate database

  • Leads are auto populated in Main Street Contacts

  • Agents/E-Business receive emails/pages with new leads

  • Search(es) from home page

  • Open Houses integrated with Advertising/Listings

  • Supports non-mls listings

  • Supports Exclusive Listings (Sothebys, Christies)

  • Your listings can have additional fields & media vs. idx and vow listings (increased personalization)

  • Showings: request a showing from anywhere on your site, including listings and the home page.

  • Supports up to 20 still images and 20 panoramas per listing, audio (via 1800 number), video clips, cad drawings, flash, slideshows and disclosure documents)

  • Supports ALL mls fields (search/display)

  • Agent Search includes languages spoken

  • Extensive agent site personalization

  • Preferred client site (search solds, transactions)

  • Seller tools: what is my home worth, sold emails,

  • Relo tools: register for more information

  • Mtg/Title pages

  • Short URL's to listings:

  • Short Agent URL's

  • Redundant servers, load balanced

  • Local configuration: this means that you do not have to implement changes that other clients make (in other words, you have choices)

  • Main Street pages work on all major browsers, including AOL as well as PC/Macintosh and UNIX computers

  • Flash presentations of agent listings & agent solds

  • Agent resume & agent portfolio

  • Agent branded local centent (relo, community, calculators)

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