Archive for the 'Blogging' Category
A while back, I wrote a post on BloodhoundBlog about using pocket-sized video cameras to record and propagate video testimonials. That kind of job is now better done by smartphone video cameras, but you can still buy a Flip camera if you have money burning a hole in your pocket. (But, if that really is your problem, I would be ecstatic if you would buy me a Looxcie headset-size video camera instead.)
Any way you capture the video, here is the procedure I talked about then:
1. Capture the video. Because you’re doing an interview, you can guide the testimonial to elicit the information you want to convey to other clients.
2. Post the video on your YouTube page.
3. Embed the YouTube video on your testimonials page. (I have code that will place a randomly-selected miniaturized-video, as pictured above, in your weblog’s sidebar, so that your clients see a different testimonial every time they come to visit.)
Here is the big duh I left out of that original post:
4. Share the link to the YouTube video with the subject of the testimonial.
When you made the film, you told your clients that you wanted for them to share the news of their good experience with their friends, colleagues and family members. How much easier can you make it for them to follow through than to give them access to their own video-recorded testimonial?
If you make a playlist of all your video testimonials, prospects referred by past clients may end up looking at more than one of your videos. Needless to say, each of those videos should link back to your main blogsite. But the big bonus of working this way is to make it very easy for your satisfied clients to share their satisfaction with their warm network.
How do I know this is a bug duh idea? Because it only took me four-and-a-half years to think of it!5 comments
My respect for Eric Blackwell is, well, simply beyond my ability to wordsmith. This guy is not only smart, but he’s fun (in a funny way), creative, and shaped in the mold of Jeff Brown’s cat skinners.
So when Eric penned a post recently on how one might be a Bloodhound if……and then showed us a superb video by a cool guy right up the road from me, I decided it would be appropriate to thrown down a glove in the challenge and see whether I win the prize (get the princess) or am sent to the guillotine.
You be the judge. Joe Post and I have worked together for a long time, and our goal is to create a video site where we are THE go to guys for finding info other than square footage and HOA fees. Enjoy…..cause I might be a Bloodhound if this makes you feel like you’d like to get to know us better.
Why do we link in the Web 2.0 world? Not because a link is a footnote, and not because a link leads to more information. Not to give link love and not to build the community. The purpose of a link is transparency: This is the truth and here is proof.
[Kicking this back to the top from May of 2008. This is foundational, a thoroughgoing elucidation of intellectual integrity in a post that is ostensibly “just” about marketing. This makes for interesting reading right now, taking account of the ideas discussed in Man Alive! — but so does everything else I have written over the years, here and elsewhere. –GSS]
This is a short post about a big idea: Transparency.
The word transparency has a useful cachet in business, a condition where nothing of material importance in the transaction is concealed from the consumer. When I was a kid, I worked with a print broker who led his clients to believe that he owned his own composition house, his own pre-press facility and his own printing plant. In fact, he worked out of his car and, for all I know, he rented his shoes. Why would his clients really want to know that he was a broker, not an owner? Because it affected his ability to deliver on his promises — certainly a material concern.
In real estate, we hear about that kind of transparency, and we’re one foot on the boat and one foot on the dock. We absolutely hate it, for example, when the other agent in a cross sale fails to disclose a material fact — no doubt hoping against hope that the problem will go away if no one mentions it. But we rebel against the idea of what we might see as an intrusive transparency. As an example, where one agent might disclose to the penny how a listing commission is to be spent, another might feel that this is none of the seller’s damn business. The discussion then would turn on whether such a disclosure is a material fact.
The issue is clouded because the word transparency means something very different in the Web 2.0 world — and in the world of persuasive communication in general. The fear in any advertising or marketing presentation — your own fear, too — is that you are being tricked, sold a bill of goods. That by dishonest or technically-honest-but-non-obvious means, you think you are buying a rabbit when all you’re really getting is an empty hat. The purpose of transparency in this context is to take away that fear.
So in reply to my post last night about video testimonials, John Kalinowski notes that they could be boring to watch. Indeed they could — if you were watching them for entertainment. But the people who actually watch them will be doing research about whether to do business with us. Entertainment has to be interesting, but research just has to be true. In fact, most people might stop watching after a few seconds or after sampling a few clips. Why? It won’t be because because they’re bored, but simply because they will have satisfied themselves that they are not being lied to.
In my own reply to John, I mention the idea of tricky editing. The boring head-on verisimilitude of that kind of video clip is also beneficial, since it is obvious to the viewer that I haven’t done a lot of chop-cutting to put words in people’s mouths. Again, my goal is not to be entertaining, but to take away the fear of deception. Chris Johnson is doing much the same thing by giving you obviously-unedited recordings from his own voicemail.
Transparency and verisimilitude both mean the same thing in this context: This is real. People are so used to marketing trickery that they expect it everywhere. The challenge for anyone seeking to change minds in the Web 2.0 world is to take away that expectation. Transparency doesn’t mean I am obliged to disclose to you the color of my underwear. Transparency means that if there is any possibility that you could entertain the smallest doubt that I am effecting some kind of sleight of hand to trick you into doing something you otherwise would not do, I have to give you the means of eradicating that doubt to your own satisfaction.
Why do I have to do this? Because I’m trying to sell to you! If I don’t take away every fear, doubt and objection you have to buying my product, you will not buy it — even if you end up buying the exact same thing — same terms, same price — from someone else.
How do I go about taking away your fears, doubts and objections in the world of Web 2.0 persuasion?
By linking, more than any other way. Linking is not about footnoting. Linking is not about providing resources for more information. Linking is not about sending link love to your buddies. Linking is not about building a community. Linking is not about engaging in conversations. All of these are ancillary factors, secondary consequences — but the purpose of linking is to demonstrate to your audience that you are telling the truth.
That bears repeating: The purpose of linking is to demonstrate to your audience that you are telling the truth.
By means of the link, you provide your reader with the means to check up on you, to verify your claims, to follow up on the sources you say buttress your case, to find out if they really do reinforce what you are saying. I linked to John and Chris in this post not to give them link love but to demonstrate to you that they are real people, not marketing avatars I made up to create a faux verisimilitude.
In the same way, if I start with a short clip of the video testimonial I linked to last night, and then link that to the full video, I can take away the fear that I edited away everything that wasn’t to my own advantage. Not to be mercenary about this, but proving your integrity in the face of a doubt will have more impact on people than if they had never had the doubt to begin with.
Here is the real world of shopping on the internet: My choices are effectively infinite. Fifteen years ago, I had to take what I could get from my limited ability to shop and learn to live with it. But now I have access to everything that is available, and I can research all of that everything until I have settled on the one thing that I will actually buy. Am I searching for perfection? No. Perfection is unattainable, an idealization that can exist only in the imagination. What I am searching for — and eliminating from my search — are imperfections. When I arrive at the item that has the fewest imperfections in my own unique hierarchy of values, then I will make my purchase. This is how I shop, this is how you shop, and this is how your potential clients shop.
Even if you don’t link — or if you link dishonestly — they will suss you out. They are not looking for reasons to so business with you, they are looking for reasons not to do business with you. Linking honestly and comprehensively may not swing the balance your way, but failing to demonstrate that your are an honest person who always tells the truth will alienate more and more potential clients. If you want to do business with the Web 2.0 consumer, you not only have to be prepared to defend everything you say, you have to effect that defense of your claims in advance, so they can research it all while they are shopping — long before you hear from them — if you ever do.
Do you have to do this? Absolutely not. But Web 2.0 consumers are already pretty sophisticated — and everything they do on the nets teaches them how to be more sophisticated. If you are not willing to be completely transparent in your online marketing presence, consumers will gravitate, one by one, to people who are willing to back up everything they say.20 comments
Jimmy Klein and young Gavin M. George got my Sunday started right. I love Sunday despite the fact that I don’t believe anything I don’t have to, and most especially do I love to start my Sunday with the Sun God of my own idolatry: The blinding brilliance of a fully-conscious human smile. The world abounds in wonders of the mind, and all we can remark on are the travesties of mindlessness.
Me, too, make no doubt, and yet I am thankful this Sunday to President Barack Obama, the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the Black Panther Party, the mainstream media and the entire TwitBook Mafia. I have never in my lifetime seen a racist lynch mob in action, and I am grateful to all the participants for showing me what menacing racial prejudice — judging by race in advance of determining the facts — looks like. If you are worrying about the fate of poor George Zimmerman — whose race, apparently, is white-enough-godammit! — console yourself: He can always avail himself of gay marriage. In the game of identity politics, gay men — born-that-way-godammit! — trump every other card. And that’s a consummation we all might as well be thankful for.
So I guess I should be thankful for Bill Maher, who argues that snarky-on-wry is about all any of us can bring to the show, most days. And I think he and I both should be grateful that no one expects us to be funny like South Park is funny. A demand for actual excellence could put just about anyone into another line of work.
And totally snarklessly, I am 1,500 words into what I hope will turn out to be the most practically useful philosophical essay I will ever write. When I’m done, will anyone read it, all the way through, all the way to the end? I will, again and again over the years, if I get it right. I don’t know that I have improved any life but my own. But I know that what my life is now is a direct consequence of the things I have written in the past. You and I get to listen to Gavin M. George play, and to smile in full consciousness of the meaning of his own fully-conscious smile. But he gets to live that music as he is playing it, and I get to live the philosophy I write by writing the philosophy I live. This is what integrity means to me: Each discrete thing is different in its way, but everything is all one thing, each entity or action or attribute or effect itself an expression of the same one thing. I like it that the world aligns that way. It would, anyway, of course, and, accordingly, it could never be possible for any of us to live what Gavin is living without doing what he is doing, but it is a thing of ineffable wonder — to me, at least — that the Good is the True is the Beautiful. Whatever you get from my writing, if anything, I’m getting everything I hoped for and more. You cannot fathom the depths of my gratitude for the gift of mind. I make it my business to live up to it in every way I can.
And: I am deeply grateful to see Mad Men return tonight. I’ve got the overs on a new pregnancy — not Joan, someone we haven’t known about yet. And I’ve got the unders on Bert Cooper coming back to work. I think Robert Morse has been fantastic, the cap on his career. But I’m betting against him.
And now I think it’s time to be thankful for Sunday Dinner. I part with this thought: Say Grace. There’s never enough to go around.3 comments
Here is Teri Lussier’s first post at BloodhoundBlog: Hi. I’m Teri…And I’m aghast.
Teri had to tell me that today is the first day of her sixth year writing with us. I’m not a birthdays and anniversaries kind of guy. But I am nothing but proud of the dawg she has turned out to be, and it’s fun to herald the event.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I met Teri just at the beginning of the end of the golden age of the RE.net. The Project Blogger contest was the first little bit of orchestrated hoke in the real estate weblogging world, and I had just told the mob of cliquey mediocrities the first of many truths they did not want to hear, inciting the first of many failed mass sneerspasms.
In each one of those mob actions, writers at BloodhoundBlog were assailed with entreaties to stop writing here. I think the theory was that depriving BloodhoundBlog of their voices would somehow silence my voice. These campaigns were initiated by Joe Ferrara; all of this mob-maniacal horse-shit originated with Joe Ferrara. It all came to nothing, of course, at least on my end. But a lot of agents and lenders screwed up their careers trying to recreate a kindergarten playground — Lord of the Flies with no points off for spelling errors.
This was evil, awful and wrong — not that I’ve ever made a secret of my opinion of social media and the mobs it engenders. But the whole phenomenon is interesting to me, because my thinking runs entirely the other way.
Teri Lussier has written great essays on BloodhoundBlog, and I’m very grateful for that. But I’m also very grateful to call her my friend. I don’t make friends quickly or easily, and I am very, very quick to push people away from me as soon as I realize they are not friends to me.
But I am a friend to Teri not out of loyalty to her, but out of my indivertible loyalty to principle. Teri lives up to values I admire, revere and worship, and that is the source of my devotion to her as my friend. If I should discover some hidden corruption in her, that would change everything for me — and I would expect her to take the same position with regard to me.
To the other BloodhoundBlog writers: If you are being pressured to pull out, and if you are staying out of a personal loyalty to me — in betrayal of your own beliefs and principles — please go with my blessing. I hate mobs, and that is what a mob is: A collection of people who betray the highest of values for the sake of friendship or collective rent-seeking or simply a jovial mutual absolution of vice. I want no part of anything like that.
Meanwhile: Congratulate Teri as suits your sensibility. Almost every post in our archives is worth reading, but Teri’s contributions — in posts and in comments — are among the very best. I say that not in loyalty to her but out of love for the very best values to be found in each one of us.10 comments
We’re introducing a new dawg today, one who puts his bite where his bark is, Hank Miller of HoundDogRealEstate.com in Atlanta. Hank is an associate broker, leader of a team of Realtors, as well as an appraiser. Here’s his credo, which I like a lot:
My objective is to call bullshit where I see it and have a little fun doing it.
I also did some housekeeping this morning, trimming a dozen folks from our contributors list. No drama, just pruning folks who aren’t spending much time with us. We’ve never deleted an account, so if your name was ever in our sidebar, you’re always welcome here.
Meanwhile, I love seeing the stuff Brian Brady, Mark Madsen, Jeff Brown and others are doing. I spent a little time last week looking at what other weblogs in the RE.net are up to by now. For all of me, we’re the last stand against the vendorslut mafia. This is a resource to be treasured: BloodhoundBlog is the only place on the internet where real estate professionals can call bullshit — fearlessly and in undeniable detail.
When a Bloodhound howls, the rafters shake. That’s a sound I never tire of hearing…6 comments
My apologies to y’all for my extended absence. I got good and sick on my way back from Anaheim, then doubled-down on dextro last weekend. I managed to put two houses into escrow, but I didn’t get a lot else accomplished.
And so I owe an even bigger apology to Rob Chipman, who joins our roster of writers today. We were talking with Rob about making this change for the past few weeks, but by the time he was ready for me, I was off the radar. In consequence, he has two posts ready to roll, and I’m just now doing the admin work to make that possible.
If you’ve been following our comments, you’ve gotten to know Rob well. He is a Vancouver real estate agent and property manager, and his brokerage, Coronet Realty, has been around longer than some of us have been alive.
Please make him feel welcome — and then go ahead and just treat him like family.5 comments
I caught up on some much needed sleep yesterday, after the fifth BloodhoundBlog Unchained Conference, held in Anaheim, CA. It is my hope that my partner Greg Swann celebrates his birthday, in relaxation and Splendor, before pondering the future of these conferences. As the Godfather of the Unchained movement, Greg argued that the title of these conferences be “Unchained” rather than the “Unleashed” title I offered. What Greg knew, and I understand now, is that Unchained suggests that the Bloodhound was never enslaved while unleashed suggests prior submission.
If you missed our show in Anaheim, you missed the proof in the pudding. I’ll give you an overview:
Greg Swann led us off with a demonstration of his Chinese army; software which creates tens of thousands of unique webpages, with granular listing data. Greg showed us how he can close the publishing gap, in less than an hour each week. Greg continually invents new and exciting software, to stay one step ahead of the market competitors, who would try tho chain him.
Scott Schang came to Unchained 2008 on, how he has described it, “his final few bucks”. He took the ideas offered there, implemented them here, and created a business which employs a half-dozen people. He shared his online business plan, his accomplishments and mistakes, and how he overcame market changes to stay relevant in the consumers’ eyes. From borrowed bus fare to accomplished entrepreneur, in 40 months, Scott has a database of willing home buyers, numbering in the five figures—Scott is Unchained.
Brian Summerfield, of the National Association of Realtors, came to take some body blows from the crew. It was his motivation which impressed me; he transparently announced that he came to address us because he wants content for Realtor.org . Mr. Summerfield invites constructive criticism of NAR on its forum. Contact him if you have an opinion to offer.
Bill Lyons, a serial entrepreneur, shared his latest creation for consumers, Revestor.com . Revestor.com offers investors an IDX search with rental data. Home buyers can search listings by net cash flow or capitalization rate. Revestor.com is expected to be released right before Thanksgiving.
Mark Madsen and Tony Sena reflect their Vegas heritage well. Never content to seek the chains of employment, the pair created WannaNetwork.com as a business community alternative to Myspace.com. That site inspired the wildly successful group blog, MortgageDaily.tv where Mark assembles some of the greatest mortgage minds across the country. Mark and Tony attended Unchained 2009, learned some valuable information and made invaluable contacts, to launch their latest venture, Shelter Realty. Their presentation chronicled the steps they took to make this new business a force in the SERPs. Both gentlemen embody the Unchained spirit.
Eric Blackwell knows search engine optimization. When we first met Eric, at Unchained Orlando, he was toiling away for a Louisville brokerage. The contacts he made, along with some salesmanship skills he learned, set Eric up for the challenge of entrepreneurship. Eric overcame a health scare to launch his own SEO consultancy; Eric on Search. Today, Eric helps regional brokerages and high-producing agents, dominate the SERPS in their region. While Eric is certainly the “rock star” of Unchained, he also demonstrated some of the things he learned, to wear the Unchained moniker.
Trudy Smit was an Unchained first-timer and shared her project, Loan Interchange, an online marketing platform for loan origination and secondary notes marketing. Her technology offers notes investors and opportunity to buy and sell, in a centralized location where participants are vetted.
Finally, I led an ill-prepared session on email marketing. I intended to share my video e-mail marketing campaigns, which helped me to achieve a higher conversion rate, but the hotel internet was too slow for a good performance. Good entrepreneurs however, have plans– and contingent plans. Business never pans out the way you think it will so you must anticipate the problems you might have. In a sense, I had chained myself to a presentation which relied upon an inflexible plan. Our Unchained conferences teach lessons to everybody so my takeaway is that you must be prepared for any and all opportunities. If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, I was “unlucky” because I was unprepared.
The Unchained philosophy is one of freedom–the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail. We know that our world and industries are changing rapidly. Old bosses are being replaced by new bosses and the Unchained practitioner will supplant all bosses, to chart her own course, serve her customers, and profit wildly. We hope to continue to give you the tools you need, to profit wildly, and share the experiences of those who implemented the strategies they learned with us.
Born Free and Determined to Stay That Way,
Brian Brady5 comments
…is what people might say once we are all done here.
After following Robert Worthington’s post: Videos are in My Arsenal and the terrific advice he got, I decided it’s my turn to spend some time in the barrel. Not for videos (despite the abundant potential I see in videos, I’m not there yet) but rather single sites: I am dialing in my individal listing web site model. Well… at least I think I am.
Heck, just last week I bragged in a Comment on Eric Blackwell’s NAR, IDX, Franchisors post “I know I can put together a single site that blows away most other agents and ALL other aggregator / franchisor lead generator thing-a-ma-bobs.” Later that night, however, as I lay down to go to sleep, all I could hear, over and over in my head, was Robert Duvall saying to John Wayne in the movie True Grit: “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed, fat man!” I realized that such a brag, based on only one person’s review (don’t kid yourself, though, my mom can be a tough critic) leaves room for improvement.
Real Estate, despite all the talking we do with others, is essentially a lonely business. (We do still talk to lots of people in order to generate business, don’t we? I mean… I didn’t miss some new App that does that for us, right?) When we create marketing pieces, and even entire marketing campaigns, we are often working in the bubble of our own minds. I have borrowed, swiped and learned as much as I can from what’s found on BHB, and so I can ask no better group to take a look at the direction I’m going and provide criticism. This single site, Wellesley La Mesa, is the first one utilizing my new layout and over-all look/feel, so it’s not too late to make wholesale changes if I’m missing something or just plain on the wrong path.
One note: the web site itself (The UnRealty Group), is about 30% finished, with lots of articles and content missing, so if you link over there, keep that in mind before tearin’ into me… I mean passin’ on your constructive criticisms. Thanks!22 comments
Having begun blogging in the summer of ’06, I found that many considered me one of the so-called pioneers in ‘online’ real estate. Frankly, I think that’s both true, and completely false. True, cuz inside the tightly defined real estate community I was a pioneer. Even now some of my local agent buds are taken aback when learning I’ve been blogging over five years now. On the other hand, the real pioneers in real estate blogging were doin’ their thing online back when I thought it was cool that I knew how to send email — and no doubt before.
What’s funny is when my friends ask me why? When I tell ‘em how much my blog has produced in terms of closed business — skinned cats — they’re almost always a bit incredulous. Then they try to be Columbo with questions designed to appear innocent, but based upon obvious disbelief. Sometimes it’s been comical.
Why some blogs work and the vast majority don’t
Before beginning, it’s important for readers who don’t know me or of me, to realize that I’m President for Life of TechTards Anonymous. I know virtually nothing about SEO. If you were to find ‘key words’ in any post I write anywhere, it’s an accident every time. … _ _ _ … is the only code I know.
Content is King! is the battle cry for blogging, though recent history shows many who’ve valiantly tried to discount that principle. I’m here to tell ya, with whatever respect is due blogging detractors, content is King of the blogging universe — at least of the one in which I live. And please, pretty please with sugar on top, don’t come up with the whole, “Yeah, Jeff, but you’re in investments — it’s different for you.” crappola. It’s not. There are literally hundreds of real estate investment sites lookin’ to create business, most, at least in part through blogging. I’m not the Lone Ranger, the exception that proves the point.
House agents who blog, and write solid gold content consistently are succeeding wildly. Ask Greg if he thinks his company’s site would do as well as it does without his priceless content.
Fact is? You must actually be pretty damn good at what you do, or it simply won’t have legs. Apply cliché #27 here — ‘not rocket science’, etc. Any business coming my way via online efforts is exclusively from blogging, no exceptions.
I bring it up now as an encouragement to those who’re genuinely expert at what they do. Blog well, consistently, and often. Share your experience, your hard learned lessons. Explain how things work in a way that isn’t Romper Room revisited, or, for you younger folk, not Mr. Rogers. What do I mean? Stop writin’ in terms that’re either profoundly in search of a Duh!, or cartoonishly simpleminded. As bloggers we’re not the only three digit IQs in the room. Explain things the way experts in any discipline would — in plain English, but not as if their audience just made it through kindergarten unscathed.
I’ll use another industry to illustrate.
I know a local clothing designer who, in another life was a well known interior designer in the midwest and east coast. She’s done all my offices for me, and any local listings I take. How good is she? Every time she’s finished one of my offices, the other tenants line up to be next. My listings? The next one she stages takin’ longer than a week to sell will be the first. She’s a bona fide expert.
I once watched her explain to a client selling an income property why she was having him spend five figures just to prepare for the market. 60 seconds after she began talking you could see the change in his attitude. He was dealing with someone who flat knew which way was north on the map. He stopped her in mid sentence, grabbed his clipboard, and began taking notes.
That’s exactly how effective a blog is when the writer is truly a master at what they do. You can’t fake mastery. People see that before it crests the horizon. But, I know there’s one more reason you’ll throw up to me to obviate the positive potential of a blog.
“People pick agents they already know, or through networking.”
True enough — no argument there. It’s my contention, however, that that is now, and has been changing the last several years. Those who bombard us with the mantra about how, ‘124% of homebuyers/sellers begin their search online’, can be assumed to be factual. But as that has become the norm, it also means, by definition, that they’ve also been discovering which agents know their stuff.
How better to learn that than through reading thousands of words that agent has written — and on subjects buyers and sellers are starving to read?
Folks will use an agent to find them a house, or sell their home for them, cuz their buddy at work, brother-in-law, or trusted neighbor gives them the heads up. But if during their time online they run across you, an agent giving them one killer informational post after another — turning hopelessly confusing issues into completely understandable procedures?
I guarantee you: An acceptable percentage of them are gonna make your phone ring, or your email ding. People like feeling comfortable — and nothing makes us feel more comfortable than vastly superior knowledge, expertise, and experience on display. Said another way . . .
What makes us more comfortable than a real pro, who explains things we don’t quite get, in a manner leaving no doubt all bases have been covered, and that this ain’t their first rodeo?
If you can look yourself in the mirror and confidently say you’re that agent — you need to be blogging, and should probably start some time around 4:30 yesterday afternoon.
You don’t need to know anything more than I do. I know how to type — what I’m talkin’ about — and how to push ‘Publish’. If you can do those three things consistently, your blog will also fill your office with cat skins. Like the man said — “It ain’t rocket science, folks.”24 comments
This is my kind of country song, a celebration of what human social interaction can be and should be.
This is what Don Reedy comes to BloodhoundBlog for. Teri Lussier, too. Al Lorenz, as well, I think, all of them in their own ways, along with a few other folks.
The funny part is, I’m actually pretty poor at delivering that experience here.
That feelin’-good-again feeling comes not so much from BloodhoundBlog as it does from BloodhoundBlog Unchained, from our memories of our shared experiences in Phoenix, Orlando and Seattle.
Here’s why: BloodhoundBlog Unchained brought out the best in you, wherever we did it. We were all of us learning, all of us teaching, and all of us were appreciated for our accomplishments. Just making it through our killer workdays was an achievement all on its own, but what made those workdays feel so right was that your virtues were fully visible to everyone, and each one of us was in full agreement about the worthiness and admirability of those virtues.
I am due some credit for this, I think. You cannot both attract my attention and hide from me. I learn a lot about the people I see from every opportunity I have to observe them. I have done this for my entire adult life, and I know I am good at it. When I see you, even if you don’t know I am aware of you, I am figuring out everything I can about you, gleaning every implication I can from every action of yours I am aware of. I can do a plausible back-story on just about anyone, and if I take the time to think about you, any secrets you keep from me will be matters of meaningless detail. I will have inferred everything about you that matters to you.
That’s actually a fine reason to dismiss me: I am scary-good at “reading” people.
But that matters in this context because I think that feelin’-good-again feeling starts with me seeing, understanding, admiring and celebrating your virtues — and celebrating you for being so wonderfully virtuous — by my standards and by your own. I know I can bring out the worst in bad people, but to the extent that I can bring out the best in good people, this is how I do it: By acknowledging and taking delight in the best you have within you.
At BloodhoundBlog Unchained, that kind of shared visibility and celebration of virtue was the common culture, for the short spans of time we were together. And it is that feelin’-good-again feeling that many of us are seeking here, too.
And thus I must conclude that I have been a poor host. I’ve always wanted for BloodhoundBlog to be a force for good in the real estate industry, but the reality is that almost no one in residential real estate representation, at least, has much interest in being good. Not good at representing their clients. Not good at selling real estate. And most especially not good at being a decent, honest, productive member of society.
To the contrary, most Realtors seem to me to be congenital rent-seekers in everything they do — oily, deceptive hucksters offering minimal value but demanding maximum compensation and always angling for Rotarian Socialist giveaways from the state — at the expense of their own clients.
This is not something I’m happy about, if you hadn’t guessed.
But it profits me nothing to dwell on these sad facts. The people I’m talking about know who they are. They’re the folks who are feeling huffy and insulted right now. But because they’re feeling huffy and insulted, there is no chance whatever that they will change their behavior, not right now: Acting huffy and insulted is how you justify behavior you already know is wrong. If you thought you were actually in the right, you would feel dismissiveness or, most appropriately, indifference. An error is comical, at best. You put on a display of offended virtue — to fool whom? — when you are caught and you won’t admit it.
Have fun with that. I don’t care. I live in a world of splendor, and there is nothing of mine to be found in any kind of squalor.
Which is not to imply that I will stop bitching at the NAR, at Inman, at the vendorsluts and all of their grateful victims. I won’t cross the street to step on a cockroach, but the proper fate of cockroaches is to be stepped on, when they come too near true human values.
But: At the same time: I am working at a larger game. If you are a friend of the dogs who knows and likes that feelin’-good-again feeling — that feeling of being admired by people you like and respect for what you yourself see as your most admirable qualities and feeling that same admiration for them — I want for you to have more of that. And if you’re someone who has always missed out on that feeling — I’d like to show you how to find it.
I’m doing most of that work at SplendorQuest.com. It’s on-topic there, not so much here. As my time permits, I want to document everything I know about this — about the proper care and functioning of the human ego. I’ve been saying this for three years, so it’s time I got it done.
Meanwhile, that probably means less big stuff from me here. I can’t not write here. I’m bursting with things to say. But the heavier reading is going to end up over there — and I invite you to join me there.
What does that mean here? I’m thinking it means the other contributors need to step up to the plate. I have never pushed people to write here — and I never, ever want anyone writing here from that creepy, rent-seeking hustle and jive. But for the writers here who like seeing that feelin’-good-again feeling on our pages, I’ll tell you where it comes from:
You come up with an idea you’re really proud of. You work it out so that you know that it really works — and why it works. You write it up for BloodhoundBlog. And the dogs eat it up. It’s the formula we started with, and it’s always worked great. Not only do you feel good about the work you’ve done, everyone feels better. The comments might unearth even better ideas, which can turn into new discussions.
The good — the pursuit and practice of virtuous behavior — is simply this: Continuously getting better at being alive as a fully-human being. This is a job BloodhoundBlog can do. How do I know? Because I can see it in your eyes — from any distance. I might be a lousy host, but I am honored to have such wonderful people as my guests.8 comments
Yes, yes, I’m late to the SiriusXm party I admit it, but we recently got rid of a car with a cassette player, so that should tell you a lot. Honestly, the only thing I knew about satellite radio was Howard Stern so you can’t really blame me, can you? But that’s the past. Now that I’m here, can I tell you how much I love it? I do! I love it! A channel of nothing but Broadway show tunes? What, are you kidding me? My gay clients and I have sing-alongs, but that’s not why I love it. Here’s why I love it: It’s specialized. I don’t know how many channels there are altogether because I only listen to two. I flip between OnBroadway and Willie’s Roadhouse. I’m not interested in Spa, POTUS, or Hair Nation (If you’ve ever met me you know I live in my own private Hair Nation, thanksanyway), or any other of the bazillion channels available, each so freaking specialized and focused that it blows my mind! On the way from OnBroadway to Roadhouse, I have to pass Prime Country, Outlaw Country, Bluegrass Junction, and The Highway. No thank you, I’m not interested. I want my Roadhouse. I want my George and Tammy, my Johnny and June, and a little lite Texas Swing thrown in to mix it up. I’ve been laboring under the false impression that C&W was C&W but no, not even close. And each radio station taps into one tiny segment of the entire car-driving radio-listening population, each driver getting their own unique radio itch scratched in just the right place- it’s ecstasy. Pure unadulterated radio ecstasy. But this is a real estate blog so let’s talk Realtor talk.
Last week I was referring a lead to a Realtor and she informed me that I’m too quick to limit myself to one area. Not really true, but I remembered Ryan Hartman’s post that gave away the blue print for a broker’s market domination plan. You should go read it, I’ll wait. Done? Okay, see where I’m going with this?
You know how much you love satellite radio? Because it’s so damn focused on one little segment of the entire listening audience and it scratches your itch in just the right way? You could be doing that with your blog. Focused on one little area, or one unique niche, biche, or one long tail search, giving a potential client just the right information, just the perfect combination of insight and expertise so that you’ve scratched a real estate itch that only you can scratch. Satisfaction. The IDX can only do so much, just like the music can only do so much, it’s you putting the whole package together: Restaurants, retail, Little League, market reports, and houses for sale, to create one unique and highly and perfectly specialized niche.
The area that I was told I shouldn’t limit myself to? 438 homes were sold in that area last year. It’s just me right now. I could sell 5% of those homes and have an okay year. Specialize? Limit myself? I believe I’ll take a cue from satellite radio and follow Ryan’s advice, because that’s an itch I know how to scratch.9 comments
Kicking this back to the top in response to Chris Johnson’s post on bribe-offers from vendorsluts. — GSS
Hey, y’all! Are you in the mood for a truly incredible offer?
What if I were to tell you that you could have a single-property web site just like ours — with your choice of style templates and your own domain, hosted for a year — all for just $99.
Or, for just $99 more, I’ll mimic your weblog’s theme. Your single property web site will look just like your weblog — to promote and protect your brand identity.
That’s actually not a bad business, and I already have everything I need to start it. The software we use to build our single property web sites is called engenu. I give it away for free, but no one uses it. If I built it to be forms-based with everything hosted on our servers, it would be easier — but much slower — for end-users, and I could make a ton of money milking Realtors by selling them the same thing over and over again.
Why not do it?
Because it’s a piece of everything I hate in the real estate industry as it is presently comprised. It’s the vendorslut syndrome in action. I write a piece of software, then sell it to you over and over again, taking a huge profit every time you pull out your credit card. You get pitches like this every day — with the difference being that our single-property web sites are a lot richer in content than the ones you can buy from sleazy vendors.
I’ve been wanting to write a post about leadership in the RE.net. I don’t like hierarchies, or none beyond the sort of adhocracy that works so well in the Web 2.0 world. We are thought leaders at BloodhoundBlog because we think wisely and well — and write wisely and well — about issues that most other people prefer to skirt.
But: I don’t kid myself: We don’t have any huge influence — nor do I want one. We have a healthy influence on thoughtful people, which I like a lot, and we have a nagging influence on the ninety-and-nine — the people who want to work better and to do better. My own interest in abstract leadership doesn’t stretch very far beyond that.
But in the comments to my post on vendors offering bribes to real estate webloggers, Jay Thompson said this:
[T]he people that become my clients swiftly come to understand my goals, motivations and integrity.
It’s an interesting statement, because it goes against what we already understand about the Web 2.0 world. Most of the time, the people who are considering hiring you as their listing or buyer’s agent, or as their lender, will not take the time to personally explore your “goals, motivations and integrity.” They are shopping for an agent or a lender, yes, but the buying process consists not of looking for reasons to accept and embrace you, but, rather, of looking for reasons to reject you. They pick the person they want to talk to by eliminating the ones they don’t want to talk to.
In that same comments thread, Bloodhound Teri Lussier says:
I would not want the people that matter to me — personally or professionally — to ever question my character.
And that’s exactly the right way of thinking. In the Web 2.0 world we each of us must be above reproach because we will not get the opportunity to issue the “But, but, buts” that undergird the defenses we devise for objectionable behavior.
Watch: This is me in May of 2007:
This is real life inside my skin: When Inman Connect rolled around in January, I took a little poke at it. No big deal, except I had just started posting as a guest blogger at the Inman Blog, a position I have since resigned. Some sleazoid insisted that I wouldn’t say the same thing in Inman’s salon. And that would have been, true, too — until he said it. Instead, I wrote an extended evisceration of all things trade show — at Inman Blog. I didn’t care if I got fired as a guest blogger, but I did care that anyone could even think that the fear of getting fired would serve to silence me.
Here’s a slice of the trade show evisceration:
The RE.net is all atwitter about this week’s Inman’s Real Estate Connect in New York, but the coming week owns an embarrassment of trade show riches. Also on tap this week: The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And, best of all: The Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.
These are all basically vendor shows, despite the hype — or, rather, in support of the hype. The big announcements will come from Apple, of course, and much of the ‘news’ coming out of the other two shows will be fun to make fun of. At BloodhoundBlog, I get no end of mileage out of the goofy crap corporate weenies try to foist off on long-suffering Realtors.
The goofy crap is the true purpose of all of these shows, and far and away the biggest profit center. And from the vendor’s side of the table — like the casino’s side of a Blackjack table — they’re a good bet. On the punter’s side of the table, the camouflage of meaning will come in the form of keynote speeches and breakout sessions — providing uncomfortable chairs as a welcome respite from the hours and hours of aimless walking up and down the aisles of vendor booths, each one offering cheap pre-printed promotional premiums in support of very costly unbreakable contracts for useless, goofy crap.
If any of the webloggers who were offered bribes — and I now realize I have no idea how many real estate webloggers might have been offered bribes by sleazy vendors — want to establish beyond all doubt that they haven’t been bought, the solution to their problem is to be found in one simple question: What would Greg Swann do?
A reputation for integrity is earned, not presumed, and if there is any possibility of doubt about my integrity, it’s my job to clean the slate. You see me doing exactly that in the matter quoted above, but, if you pay attention, you will see me doing it all the time.
Now the cartoon cowboy’s retort to a challenge like this is, “I don’t hafta prove nuffin’ to nobody!” That’s right. But if my reputation has been soiled, if I don’t work to clean it, no one else will do it for me.
The fact is, whether they admit it or not, these webloggers have had their reputations soiled. You can argue that this was not the intent of their immediate benefactor, but this changes precisely nothing. So what would I do, if I were stuck where they are now?
What would Greg Swann do?
Starting with the bribe “gift” I liked the least, I would write reviews of the “gift” products, one by one — on the pages of AG. Both Jay Thompson and Russell Shaw insist that they have never been told what they cannot write on AG. But Benn Rosales wrote in a BloodhoundBlog comment, “[W]e ask that our writers not endorse products for Ag, but rather do it on their own sites.” That suggests that the first such review might be very interesting. In any case, I would establish my independence by establishing my independence beyond any possible quibble or doubt.
But, of course, first I would renounce the damn bribes altogether, again on the pages of AG. I like the idea of writing the reviews enough that I just might do it here. I have nothing to prove in this matter, but the fact of the bribery itself is revolting to me. In any case, taking expensive “gifts” from people you write about is exactly the sort of behavior that should call your character into question. If your plan is to earn a reputation for integrity, it were well not to seem to be seen selling it in public.
But that’s all one. I’m not talking to them, I’m talking to you. People almost always dig in, in situations like this, when they’ve thoughtlessly made the wrong choice. A moment’s thought would have made all the difference: “Why would vendors want to give $64,000 worth of merchandise to real estate webloggers?” That’s not a hard question to answer, but you have to think of it before you can hit upon the obvious objective of the beneficent vendors. But now they’re trapped by their acceptance of the “gifts” — which was also part of the vendors’ objectives.
That’s their problem. Here is your problem. You need to figure our how to keep yourself out of this kind of mess. This sort of dilemma is not new, and it is not rare. If you take the PR-whores like Inman “news” and Realtor magazine and combine that with the sleazoid vendors they pimp for and then combine all that with the vast, tentacular National Association of Realtors and all of it reptilian subsidiaries — you have yourself some excellent enemies! The whole thing is like a huge tar pit, and if you dip your toe in anywhere, you’re very likely to be trapped forever.
I suppose I could write my own code of ethics for wired Realtors and lenders. But the trouble with any sort of Tablets-of-Moses proscriptions is that people treat them as being exhaustive. Why shouldn’t you put advertising on your weblog? Because it implies that you don’t make your living in real estate. Why shouldn’t you make fun of your clients in amateur videos? Because you don’t like it when salespeople make fun of you. Why should you never, ever even seem to take a bribe, disclosed or undisclosed? Duh.
I don’t even think it would help to ask, “What would Greg Swann do?” — although that certainly would provoke that critical moment’s thought.
But here’s what I do, inside my own mind. It’s the Golden Rule, only backwards: How would I see this — and what would I think about it — if the tables were turned? What you are considering doing may not actually be morally wrong, but if it would smell bad to you from the other side of the table, you need to think it through some more.
The time of your life is your sole capital, but that’s an inexact statement. Your life, in essence, is your awareness of your life — experienced now, remembered and anticipated. When you do something you know in advance is wrong, you have to make war on your own mind. You have to renounce your real-time awareness while it is happening, pretending to yourself that something else is happening instead. And then you have to try to paper over the memory of what you have done — even though it calls itself to your attention again and again. This is self-destruction — the deliberate and on-going dismantlement of your one, real, irreplaceable life.
I think it’s possible that the sanest, most healthy thing you could do is to print out the paragraph just above this one and then tape it somewhere where you have to read it at least once a day. It may not be the most important thing I have to say, but it is the one that will make the biggest difference in your day to day life.
Take a look at yourself as your potential clients will see you on the web. If you don’t like what you see, fix it. If you don’t like who you’ve been — fix that. But if you don’t sculpt and burnish your reputation for integrity in everything you do, you probably won’t have a chance to explain yourself later.30 comments
Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of BloodhoundBlog. Here is where we started, with a question that haunts me to this very day:
If almost-as-good is free or nearly free, what is the market value of slightly-better?
At the time that we launched, Zillow, Trulia and Redfin were new kids on the block, and traditional Realtors were casting a wary eye over their shoulders. It was an interesting time to write about real estate, even though some of what I wrote in those days seems comically stoopid to me by now.
(Caveat lector: Our archives always repay effort. I could wish that someone would comb through them and pull out the true gems — the category Enduring Interest is crying out for such a treatment. But even without that helpful handiwork, if you haven’t learned everything we have taught here, you could do worse than giving our posts over the past five years your regular attention.)
I love this place, and I love the work we have done here, but I can’t revisit the history of BloodhoundBlog without some sadness — and sadness is an emotion I’ve wanted for my whole life to know nothing about. But it remains that my most important goal for this weblog — unchained Realtors — remains unfulfilled.
Too much the contrary. Most of the people who were writing in the RE.net when BloodhoundBlog was young are on the slave-master side of the table by now, either as vendorsluts, Judas goats — or both. It’s not hard for me to deplore this outcome, but none of it would be possible without the active participation of the slaves, who line up to be yoked with an ox-like complacency. Despite all the opportunities technology affords us to break free of the brokers, the NAR, the Inmannequins, et infinitely cetera, there is something about most Realtors that seems to crave dependency, subordination and the attendant exploitation.
In response to this outcome, I must admonish myself with the words I have deployed on so many other people over the years: Cultivate indifference. For five years and more, we have been just that close to smashing all the icons, ridding ourselves forevermore of the vampires who have fed on us since 1910, at the least. But: The only mind I can change is my own. The only life I can make better is my own. The only business I can rightfully attend to is my own.
And this I have been doing. I sell a lot. I list now and then. I’m building the property management business. I’m writing software when I have time, and the software I’m writing does subtle and interesting things that slide right under the radar of my competition — assuming they’re paying attention to anything, anyway. I have new things coming, and I have so many ideas that I have had to resign myself to the fact that I will probably die before I can implement even half of them. What I don’t have much of, right now, is sympathy for my fellow oxen, stolidly traipsing around in circles, grinding flour for other people’s bread.
I would that things were different, but they’re not. There is no catcher in the rye, and it is not my purpose in life to incite the fury of lemmings for committing the awful crime of rescuing them from their chosen fate. The uniquely human life is never about zero, no matter how tragic and unnecessary zero might be.
Here is what I have: I am 51 years old, and yet I have never been a day over 19 in my mind. I caught myself last week feeling particularly young, and I had to remind myself consciously of how many birthdays I have seen. I live in a home I love, and despite repeated attempts over the past three years, I haven’t managed to lose it to foreclosure. I am in love with the sexiest GILF in the world, and our marriage has never been stronger than it is right now. I’m making money, and I’m on the bleeding edge of making a lot of money. My life is not without sorrow, sad to say, but my life has always been a thing of Splendor, and that just gets better year by year.
So here’s to BloodhoundBlog at five. Here’s to dogs without chains, to oxen without yokes and to minds free to map the illimitable everything of the uniquely human life. If you are not free, I’m sorry for you. But I am as free as I can make myself, and that matters to me more than anything.
Old Bushmills, three fingers, over ice. Cheers!20 comments
I was trying to respond to Jeff Brown’s last post about successful blogging and my comments just kept getting too long. So I thought I would send it to Greg as a blog post and see what he thought about posting it. Now, here we are! Thanks Greg!
While some people are out there looking for the most experienced, thoughtful, succinct and eloquent agent they can find, I actually think those folks are in the minority. I have always felt like the average Joe doesn’t think that we are rocket scientist type consultants, they think we are salesmen.
Most sellers are looking for the listing agent who has the most signs and success in their neighborhood, or someone who has been referred to them. A few will call based on good blogging, but the vast majority finds the agents that help them by looking at homes that are listed in their area. They have two ways of contacting them, either by calling on the sign or by finding them online in someone’s IDX.
Most buyers don’t think they need an agent to help them; they just want to see houses.
A successful blog in my opinion doesn’t have to necessarily convince the potential seller or buyer that you are the one; it has to convince Google that your site has enough authority to place it near the top of the results when someone searches for real estate in your area. Blogs do this in two ways. The first is that Google just loves the blog format. I have written a blog post hit “publish”, realized I had a typo in the title, fixed it immediately and found it indexed in Google with the typo. The post was indexed within 3 minutes of posting. My website is a blog, even though it has 128 static pages and I have only posted 28 posts. The posts add content; the comments add content (my 28 posts have about a thousand comments). I would like to post more but I am too busy dealing with the leads.
I would suggest that when you are measuring bankable results from a Realtor web presence, a blog is just one part of the process. The other important part of the web presence is having the device that actually converts readers/wishful thinkers into bank depositors, and that is the IDX. The blog brings authority to the site, helps push the site in the SERPs and also brings the visitors. The IDX turns the tire kickers into clients. One doesn’t work very well without the other.
IMHO it is very difficult to get Seller listing leads (where someone simply calls and wants to interview you for the listing) straight from the knowledge you impart on a blog unless you already dominate an area. I think it is almost impossible if you are new in the business.
Yet with an IDX, a newer agent (or any agent who has finally decided that it’s actually time to go to work) can attract buyers and help the agent sell some homes. It will also indirectly lead to some listing opportunities with the Buyers who have to sell something first!
I think that today when a seller starts thinking about selling, he will frequently start by looking at the other homes in his own neighborhood for sale to see what they are selling for, either by calling on signs, or looking them up online in a local IDX. For years, potential sellers are meeting agents that way. Many sellers will simply call whoever has a lot of signs in the neighborhood, call one of the ten agents they know, call whoever sold them the house, or call the agent their friend used.
The sellers that are left today… well I don’t think too many of them are reading someone’s brilliant and fresh analysis of the market and calling because they think the blogger invented sliced bread. Maybe a few are, but not “most”. I think most just want to see how much the house across the street is selling for, so they call and ask… and boom they are talking to the listing agent or the IDX agent. Those agents, if they are smart, are the early birds that get the worms.
A blog can be very valuable even if the agent isn’t a great writer and the dominant agent in an area, simply by explaining the process, showcasing the area, and creating the relevant content and keywords that are required to have a presence in the web that someone can actually find while they are searching for info online. In order for your site to be considered an authority it has to have all of the related keywords that apply to your industry. What better way is there to get that authority than by writing posts that explain the process: The appraisal, the inspection, the financing, the staging, the showing, the contracts etc.etc.etc. Obviously there are other factors that influence your position in the search results, but having the semantically related words (keywords) that apply to your industry is an essential ingredient.
If the website ranks on Google and has traffic, the IDX will give you a steady stream of buyers, and a lighter stream of sellers. The blog gets you to the party and the IDX is what gets the cute girl to ask you to dance, what happens after that is up to you.44 comments