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Archive for the 'Technology' Category

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the world’s first peripatetic computer: You walk, you work and you thrive.

You walk, you work – and you get the job done.

I was walking around the house Saturday — busily working away, headset in my ear, making phone calls and dealing with emails — when it hit me:

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the world’s first peripatetic computer.

It’s easy and natural to work — to do real work — while walking. Salesmaniacs know that you work better on the phone when you’re walking and talking, but that’s just one aspect of the the sheer utility of doing the desk work where the work is, instead of trying to disgarble the mangled reports of intermediaries.

Comprehensive reviews of the S4 abound, pick your poison. I’m Apple to the core since 1985, so this was a big move for me. I have zero doubt that all smartphones are rip-offs of Apple, that without the iPhone, cell phones would still look and disappoint like the the Nokias and Motorolas of yore. But Samsung is number two and it is trying harder than Apple is now — a lot harder.

The unique features of the phone are gee-whiz and boy-howdy both, doubt you nothing, but that’s all just geekery (and the whole Android universe is rife with the kind of self-satisfied jargonistic needlessly-arcane asshattery that made normal people shun Unix (Eunichs?) geeks even before they made DOS for the dumb ones). What makes the S4 work is the way it’s made for work.

Like this:

* Size: Nice in my hand, maybe just a touch big for the wimminz, but very pocketable, unlike the largely-comparable Galaxy Note 2. (Between the lines: Leaving the phone out of the iPad and iPad Mini was an unforced error on Apple’s part.)

* Weight: That plastic shell feels cheesy, but it makes the phone super-light. I can hold it stationary in one hand indefinitely, easily, without rest or stress. I sold my iPad 2 because the weight of the thing made it, de facto, a crippled laptop, not a usefully-mobile computing solution.

* Software: This is still the weakest link for true peripateticism, computing while ambulating, working while you walk, but we’re getting there. The whole “app” diversion has been a disaster, with millions of people possessed of dozens of one-off (cr)apps, each one of which is really just a showy database client. But because Google is (dimly, slowly) catching onto the idea that the essential component in computing is not the device, not the code and not the data but the end-user, device-irrelevant computing gets better and better. As it does, the amount of work you can get done wherever you are grows dramatically.

This is my notifications screen, with my TV remote always ready to hand. Note that the phone is aware that earbuds are plugged in. The software suggestions it makes are all useless, but at least it's trying. Note to Google: Heuristics. You know how to do it.

This is my notifications screen, with my TV remote always ready to hand. Note that the phone is aware that earbuds are plugged in. The software suggestions it makes are all useless, but at least it’s trying. Note to Google: Heuristics. You know how to do it.

* Hardware: Beyond cool, so go read those reviews. There’s built-in biometric stuff and — soup to nuts — an IR blaster. I have a remote for our TV “widgeted” into my lock screen. Best news of all: A user-accessible micro-SD slot. I have the 16GB phone, augmented by a 64GB memory card for, I kid you not, fifty-six bucks. I have 80 gigs of static ram on my phone!

* Camera: Better than my point-and-shoot — by a lot. The sharing support everywhere is first rate, but it’s easy to move photos or videos wherever you want them.

* Battery: It’s a slow charge for a long life, a good trade-off. Much better, the battery is user-swappable, so dedicated road warriors can keep a spare or two fully-charged.

But wait. There’s more.

I can have a desk when I sit down, yet the computer comes with me when I move.

Take a look at this docking station. Power, monitor, hard-disk, keyboard, mouse — desktop. The S4 and this dock are, as of now, the perfect solution for working a conference: The workstation stays at your seat as you, the phone and your headset work the breaks, then everything is back to a desktop/laptop-like solution when you sit back down.

Invite me to your show. I want to prove this will work beautifully!

I’ll have more to say about the S4 as I have more time with it. But so far it’s doing for me what my Macbook Pro, my iPhone and my erstwhile iPad could not do: Giving me a way to work when the only flat surface available to me is my left hand.


The end-times are upon us: DocuSign spam…

From my mail this morning:


That’s a spoofed email — no links back to the mothership, and a big, fat executable at the bottom. I’m betting it’s WinPoison, so it probably won’t hurt my iMac, but I won’t be researching that question.

But: Be alert. Whether it’s spam, malware or a phishing line, nothing goes wrong until you make the mistake of clicking on the wrong file or link.


Are Zillow and Trulia thrashing savagely in a blood-red ocean? Here’s a clue: Both of them are jumping the shark.

Do you feel like dinner?Is the business model of all the Realty.bots daft?

It is Citron’s primary thesis that Zillow is a Web 1.0 business presenting itself as a Web 2.0 investment. The entire premise of Web 2.0 is that smart managing and publication of information interactively to users can scale tremendously, while costs remain fixed. But unlike Netflix, LinkedIn, and even Facebook, Zillow isn’t voyaging forth into an ever-expanding horizon of unlimited sized markets opening up on the internet. It generates virtually all of its revenue from U.S. real estate agents. And it does so the old- fashioned way—by cold-calling them on the telephone. It’s been operating since 2006 more or less as it does today, and was consistently unprofitable, until the last two quarters.

[….] It is a “heavyweight” sales company masquerading as a “web 2.0” leveraged technology play. The only way it has to grow revenues right now is with the increasing intensity of the sales effort. It’s not light and leverageable like LinkedIn, or OpenTable (Sales and mktg 21.4% of revenues) Zillow is more similar to Groupon than a Web 2.0 company such as LinkedIn or Open Table.


Expressed another way, it is apparent to Citron that Zillow is buying revenues with an intense telesales effort. Put in its simplest terms, they spent an additional $3.8 million on sales expense last quarter, and only generated $4.8 million in new revenues!

By comparison, Open Table spends 21% of revenues on sales, and even LinkedIn spends 33%. This comparison shows how much Zillow is dependent on old school phone room sales—not Web 2.0 online leverage.

While management might spin a fun story about their company growing revenues at a rapid pace, the proof is in the numbers. The cost of sales demonstrates that customers do not buy Zillow ads; they are sold Zillow ads, which should be disturbing because they address a target niche market unlike OPEN or LNKD—and cost of sales should be lower.


Citron notes that, formerly, referenced above, could not make money during the real estate boom of the mid 2000’s. At the time, they were the only online destination for brokers to buy leads. (Citron wrote about MOVE when its market cap was over two billion “with a B”; today it is 350 million “with an M”).

How does anyone expect Zillow to thrive in that identical business, with competition from, Trulia, and a host of smaller competitors, all fighting for wedges of the same finite customer base? The inescapable market reality is that the business model of selling leads to real estate brokers just does not scale…read on.

Do read on. The Citron report is devastating to all of the Realty.bots.

Is it true? The suits deny it, of course, but for the minions of publicly-traded companies, it is a felony to tell the truth about business prospects. That Zillow and Trulia have hired a herd of Judas Goats — six-figure flunkies paid to write rah-rah-rah weblog posts — seems telling to me.

Meanwhile, note these bold new initiatives: will give you a chance to win a Mercedes E550 just for building out your agent profile. That’s a car worth something like $75,000 in exchange for contributing free content to Trulia’s site. Why isn’t it worth your while to populate your profile without the incentive? Uh…

But wait. There’s more. will give you a chance to win a $10,000 gift card just for completing a Zillow Premier Agent web site. And this is not worth doing without the incentive because…? Yeah.

These are both instances of jumping the shark, and they’re both very loud statements that the big bosses at both Zillow and Trulia think their product — advertising paid for by schmucks like you — isn’t worth the money they charge for it. How can we know that for sure? Because free advertising is not the prize offered in their contests. Not even second-prize. Not even tenth-prize. Instead, your opportunity is to be their bitch and then not win a car or a gift card. The lottery is a sucker bet, too, but at least the lottery doesn’t hold you hostage forevermore.

Are the Realty.bots really in trouble? I have nothing invested in them in any way you can measure investment. But people who will say things like this

Think about the possibilities … $10,000 worth of free stuff.

will say just about anything…


Big duh technology tip: Film that testimonial, YouTube it, then share the link with your client.

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!


Not everything can be coordinated in cyberspace. When you gotta move, don’t take a turn without Twist.

Twist screen shotCathleen and I have been playing with a new iPhone app called Twist. (Hat tip: GeekWire.)

What is it? In the shortest possible summary, Twist is ETA software. You tell it where you’re going, it tells you and the people you’re meeting there when you will arrive. Or they can tell you when they will arrive, so you don’t waste time thumb-twiddling. ETA is calculated on your actual motion, so it doesn’t tell anyone anything until you actually hit the road.

Twist integrates with iCal (which integrates with Google Calendar). It will tell you when you need to leave for an appointment so you won’t be late.

It also taps into your contact database, so you can select any destination you already know about. Twist keeps track of your past destinations, so reusing them is a breeze. And you can set up favorite destinations you use all the time (like your home or office), adding in the contacts associated with that site, for one-touch Twisting. (Realtors: Think about how many times you go back to a house you have listed or put under contract.)

And it integrates with Google Maps to give you driving directions and real-time progress updates on your travels. I don’t use GPS, and I’m off-the-charts kinesthetic, so this is more gee-whiz fun for me that something I need, but the people on the other end can track my mapping, too.

Here’s the PR movie for Twist, which for some reason is focused on dating:

Who (besides nervous daters) can use Twist? Happily-committed couples; if you’re cheating, Twist will tell on you. Bosses with drivers on the road, stipulating that the ability to supervise creates a liability for failure to supervise. And: Real estate professionals. Twist makes it easy to plan your day, to coordinate with clients, vendors and other team members — and to tell your spouse and kids when they might expect to see you again.

What would I change in the software?

I want every event in my calendar to be Twisted automatically, in the background, without my intervention. Moreover, I want the calendar integration to be more heuristic: It it looks like a street address, use it. Software that tries to engineer me is never fun.

I want the ETA estimates to be based on my track record as a driver. I move through space at least 30% faster than Twist thinks I should. Over time, the ETA times should be based on my actual pace and not Twist’s (and Google’s?) surmises.

Likewise, if I regularly deviate from the suggested route (I know all the sneaky back ways to get where I’m going), I want to use my route, not Twist’s. Anyone coming by separate vehicle should have my superior route to follow, as well.

There’s more that I haven’t even talked about: Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, walking and mass-transit options, weather, photos (including Google street view), etc. If you are committed to living a fully transparent life, Twist gives you a documented paper trail for all your movements and appointments.

Hiding from the spouse? Hiding from the boss? Hiding from The Man? Twist is not for you. But if you want to maximize your use of the precious minutes of your day, it’s a sweet little app.


Did you Seymour Glass? It’s a perfect day for an iPhone killer.

Project Glass. Too much to love. Phone with no hands. Video with no hands. Internet with no hands. I can use an iPad when I need it, but 80% of what I’m doing with mobile computing, this can do. Here is where we’ll miss Steve Jobs. Google is better than Microsoft with new ideas, but what we’ll notice, when this ships, is everything that should be there but isn’t.

More: No phone on-board, no stereo ear-buds. A lot of hardware for so little functionality, a lot of room for me-tooish clones. This is the first of many new ideas where the passing of Steve Jobs will be sorely felt.

Comments are off for this post

“If almost-as-good is free or nearly free, what is the market value of slightly-better?”

Six years ago Friday, I launched BloodhoundBlog with the words cited in the headline:

In a subsistence culture, the work of the mind is precious and literally unsupportable. We are by now so rich that millions of people can create intellectual resources that they give away, in turn to be remarketed by others. This may or may not work in the long run for companies tapping into and amplifying open-source-like works of the mind. Consider that aggregator software levels the playing field for small players. The interesting thing is what it will do to companies whose entire business model is based on scarcity and hoarding. If almost-as-good is free or nearly free, what is the market value of slightly-better?

I’ve hit that theme again and again over the years: How much future is there in a job that millions of very smart people are willing to do for free?

Stewart Brand said “information wants to be free”. This has intellectual property implications far beyond ordinary information. But with respect to that ordinary information — news, opinion, fiction, poetry, almost all music, etc. — the war is over. Hoarding lost. The challenge amidst this vast abundance is not getting people to pay for your information — but simply getting them to pay attention to it.

The daily newspaper has no hope whatever of nicking me for fifty cents. The question that will decide if there is even to be a newspaper is, can they hold onto my eyes for as long as fifty seconds? And will someone pay for those eyes in the random hope of piercing my vast indifference to advertising?

It comes down to career advice, I think, for the newspaperati and for all of us: How much future is there in a job that millions of very smart people are willing to do for free? Maybe not the same work, but so close that any differences become academic. And: If you’re committed to sharing information even in a marketplace where ordinary information is so abundant as to be without monetary value, what are you going to do to make a living?

At Forbes magazine, Susannah Breslin offers advice on why you should not be a writer. Her arguments seem a little defensive to me, but it’s hard to fault her for that: She’s getting paid to write — for now — but getting paid to create ordinary information seems like a diminishing return to me. Here’s why: The quantity of ordinary information available to you is ludicrously infinite. The quantity of time you have available for that information is tragically finite. You can’t begin to make a dent in all the stuff that is available to you for free. Why would you pay for more?

That’s a question that elicits a dinosaur’s roar from paleo-journalist Leonard Pitts:

The function served by daily newspaper journalism is critical to the very maintenance of democracy.

That reads to me like the the opening argument in a plea for tax-payer subsidies. Good luck with that…

The death of pay-for-play in the lesser arts results from the massive horizontalization of art. If I used to read the newspaper at lunch but now I catch up with my Facebook friends, why am I still subscribing to the newspaper? Reading is reading, and reading about people I like is more fun that getting heartburn over the antics of Obama or Romney. Mindshare is finite and the content competing for it is infinite. What is the market value of a commodity available in infinite quantities? Zero. Don’t like that? Dang…

Salon magazine wonders, “What happens if no one pays for music?” The answer? The band plays on. What currency actually motivates artists? Attention. They want to get paid, but they need to be noticed. If the artists who want to get paid more than they want to be noticed go get other jobs… no one will notice. The working conditions at the Malaysian shoe factory are terrible, but the line outside the personnel office is two miles long. Meanwhile, for consumers, crap art is crap art, and free crap art is the richest kind. How do we know all this is so? Because the crap artists who used to get paid by standing athwart the chokepoint now sing lyrics written for them by Leonard Pitts: “The function served by forgettable-music-for-pay is critical to the very maintenance of democracy.” Yeah. Good luck with that, too…

This is all very funny to me, because it is obvious to each one of as consumers, and, simultaneously, completely opaque to us as producers: We want everything we can get for free, but we want to be paid for everything we have for sale. Here’s the way the world really works: You own your property to the exact extent you can defend it. This has always been the case, it’s just more obvious as the marginal value of commodity goods plummets and the marginal cost of defending them soars. Rock stars want for you to subsidize the expense of defending their essentially worthless property. Journalists go them one better, appealing for coerced hand-outs in exchange for their worthless prose. Neither of these irrational arguments is likely to hold up for long. How many taxpayer-funded ceremonial blacksmiths do you have in your town?

Here’s the funniest bit of all, though: Academics want to know who is going to pay them for regurgitating the same swill over and over again, when a much better teacher can do the job once, perfectly, and teach a billion students effectively for free:

Inevitably, as colleges struggle with competition, they will be torn between using their credentialing authority to better sell their own courses rather and allowing students to choose the courses offering them the best value. Will they uphold the public trust that is manifest in degree-granting authority—or use credentialing to pursue profit-maximizing strategies?

If you have any doubts about the answer to that question, take it up with Leonard Pitts — or your favorite ex-rock star.

Again: If almost-as-good is free or nearly free, what is the market value of slightly-better?

Not much. And if you think that’s a bad thing, you just might be a dinosaur…

(Cross-posted from


Internet savvy Phoenix real estate broker seeks a buyer, a partner, an investor or a job.

A note to the Bloodhounds: I want to come in from the cold. If you know of a biggish Phoenix brokerage that could use my skills and assets, I’d appreciate the referral. –GSS

I own a very small boutique real estate brokerage — good reputation, strong good will, clean books, and colossal internet power — but I am ready to move on to something else. Stripped to the essence, this is what I have to offer:

  • A very strong internet presence consisting of several hundred-thousand web pages on a number of domains. I have several custom-built automated IDX sites, and I can throw 300,000+ backlinks at any web page, raising any web site’s standings in the Search Engine Results Pages virtually overnight.
  • A FlexMLS-based IDX real estate search site that scores on the first page of Google for a number of very-high-value search terms.
  • Me: A sales professional with a deep background in print and internet marketing and strong systems, applications and API programming skills. I built all of the web sites discussed below, and I have a lot of experience building workable IDX/VOW RETS solutions from the FlexMLS database. I have high-level relationships with real estate industry technical professionals and vendors, and I can present comfortably to groups from 50 to 50,000 people.

In short, I have a freight train’s worth of internet power being pulled by a mule-powered real estate business. The interent presence I bring to the table would be of substantially greater benefit to a much larger brokerage. Here is a summary of my internet assets:

  • — Main brokerage lead-generation site. It’s built as a WordPress weblog at the top level, but it subsumes thousands of pages, including separate web pages for every community and subdivision in Metropolitan Phoenix. The idea is to capture long-tail searches and upstream them into qualified leads. I have technology, so far not implemented, to effect the same kind of long-tail search-capture for every street address in Metropolitan Phoenix, taking those searches back from the national sites like, and
  • — The most robust MLS search in Metropolitan Phoenix, and one of the strongest MLS sites in SEO performance. This site is a consistent source of motivated buyer leads. The IDX-driven sites discussed below drive click-traffic back to this site to keep potential buyers engaged as they refine their searches.
  • — Pictured above, this is an iPad-optimized IDX-driven luxury homes catalog. This site can be repurposed to support subdivision listing farms for individual agents. This is the future of internet real estate marketing to both buyers and sellers and no one has it but me.
  • — A weblog built to rhapsodize Paradise Valley luxury properties.
  • — A site devoted to marketing to equity sellers, a demographic category we may soon see more of.
  • — A site focused on marketing to short sale sellers.
  • Re-brandable lead-generation sites — These are running as automated IDX-driven sites now, capturing and upstreaming long-tail searches.
  • Real estate weblogging sites — Real estate industry-specific weblogging.

I’m open to just about any idea, but I’m initiating this discussion in pursuit of compensation. I can help you maintain and build upon these internet investments as well as maximizing and building upon the value of your existing net presence, but my immediate objective is to transfer my business assets to a broker better equipped to manage them. I have skills that are in very short supply, and I want to maximize the value of my intellectual capital. As it says in the headline, I’m looking for a buyer, a partner, an investor or a job. If you want to push your business to a higher level on the internet, I want to hear from you.


What happens in an internet minute? And how do you hope to push-market your way through it?

My take: You cannot successfully push-market into that cacophony. You must pull, because there is already way too much push. I’m thinking Eric Blackwell’s archives warrant your attention.


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.


DocuSign graduates: The ultimate signature bot is about to become a full-blown point-of-purchase.

What’s the real difference between a broker and a salesperson? Whatever his or her license status, the broker is one who knows the deal ain’t done until you’ve got the money. Starting in April, DocuSign is going to make a broker’s life a lot easier:

DocuSign’s upcoming April release ushers in a new era for the global standard for eSignature with the introduction of Payment Processing. Once available, you will be able to close the deal and collect the cash with DocuSign in one step to further accelerate transaction times, increase speed to revenue, reduce costs and enhance your customers’ experience.

It’s PayPal, and the charges are plausibly reversible, so it’s not perfect money. But this is document-as-storefront, a whole new way for paper-pusher to sell.

Note to the vendorslut mafia: I gain nothing by chastising you for your unbounded mediocrity, which is why I’ve stopped paying attention entirely to your artifacts of ineptitude. But take careful note: DocuSign knows how to deliver the goods. They are in a constant added-value mode, with the result that no less-motivated competitor can even come close to them. It’s not just the features, it’s how they are implemented — software-as-a-service in both directions, with a REST API coming in the new release.


Online Success For Real Estate Brokers/Agents – Still More Myth Than Reality?

Count this post as the first in this year’s semi-annual observations of social media/online marketing for real estate agents. Those who know my views on the topic, also know I’m always open to changes in the landscape. My years online have shown me widgets and SM pretty much add sales every now and again. Agents don’t need shiny toys and Facebook to do that.

I have no dog in this discussion — it’s about results.

In fact, I’m rooting for something, anything, put out by either the TechnoGeeks or whatever the online marketing folks are callin’ themselves these days, to work. I know many of ’em, and they have good hearts, work their butts off, and want to bring results to the table. They’re big-time smart. But as I’m fond of lamenting, the next shiny toy and/or SM ‘technique’ that skins as many cats as they imply, will be the first.

The test I apply: Will this new technique beat the increased production that adding another 1-3 hours a week to what the agent’s already doin’?

That’s a fairly low bar. Yet every year I beg for agents to brag about the new SM/shiny object that added more than a sale or so a quarter. Being more alert at Happy Hour every Friday could make that happen.

Let’s get IDX outa the way first.

We all know of or about agents who’ve figured out lead generation via an IDX on a website/blog. Some do better than others, but a level of success can be had — sometimes, impressive success. I’ll leave it to the IDX lead generation experts, but it seems getting thousands of leads a year is a stellar lure. The other shoe inevitably drops though, as it’s been tough for me to find any who’ve worked out a way to successfully skin more than 1% of those cats. I assume somebody is. But that creates its own problem. If, for instance, someone works hard enough to sift through 5,000 IDX leads in order to close 50 transactions — what’s left in the work week for, you know, belly to belly production? How many hours a week is that lone agent puttin’ in?

If they’re in a $150,000 market, that’s GCI easily over $200,000. If they own the brokerage and have hired agents, one wonders how much they actually make themselves, outside of any deals they do on their own. Think about it. You own a brokerage, but don’t list/sell yourself. You produce leads resulting in $225,000 in closed commissions. What are you making? Desk rent? 10-20% slice of your agents’ pies? We haven’t factored in overhead yet, regardless of how much it might be. High or low, it’s money outa the bottom line for the broker. Somebody please explain this to me.

OK, where were we? Oh yeah, sifting through a ton of leads.

Seems though, that process would bury just one agent, right? You tell me, but those numbers would generate hours of sifting work that would add perilously to the list ‘n sell part of the conversion equation. No doubt that explains why so many teams are IDX based. Duh.

It also explains why teams almost universally opt for the broker-centric biz model. If you’re generating 10,000 leads for 100 closed sales, you simply cannot pay your buyer agents agent-centric commission cuts. Makes a lot more sense, right? Frankly, if I had to count on a 1% conversion rate, I’d . . . well, never mind. Can’t argue with teams that’re workin’ in offices with fur-lined walls, now can we? 🙂

Unless someone convinces me otherwise, I’m planning to attend the Real Estate Tech Conference in Georgia scheduled for this April.

“Why the hell would ya do that?!” is the typical response I’ve been getting. How ’bout road trip to the south, a region I’ve yet to visit. Then there’s a buncha people around the country for whom I harbor great respect, some of ’em Bloodhounds, who’re also attending. Most I haven’t met, which is yet another reason.

An atheist in the front pew.

Problem is, when I show up at these things, I feel like the lone atheist in church. 🙂 The true believers wanna know why I’m not singing’ from the same hymnal. It’s at that point I begin talkin’ of what’s missing. It’s the elephant that’s not in the room — empirical evidence of impressive numbers of skinned cats. That’s when the frowns spread like the rising tide at La Jolla Shores.

Think about it logically, and rationally. For years now, agents from coast to coast have paid good money to hear about widgets and SM ‘how to’, only to learn they can’t find one example of anyone who’s added 25 sales a year to their production. Yet they keep on comin’. And no, goin’ from one deal a year to 25 doesn’t count. 🙂

Here’s this year’s first challenge to all the masters of the online universe, and to those runnin’ the shiny toy department:

Is this the year you finally bring something to the table that beats anything OldSchool?

And for the love of God, please please please don’t use the tried and true lame answer that’s been used THE LAST SIX CONSECUTIVE YEARS.

“It’s a long term strategy, Jeff. It takes time to work its magic. But, once you’ve got the pipeline goin’ full tilt, ya better give your banker a heads up!” Or something along that line. ‘It’s not been tested long enough’. ‘We’re still gettin’ the bugs out’. ‘Agents aren’t using it right — or consistently — or while wearing argyle socks’.

When those don’t work, they pull out the ever popular, “OldSchool, my ass. The only reason guys like you skin so many cats is cuz you’re older than Moses’ son. You’re simply livin’ off decades of mere existence.” Oh yeah? Well . . . your mother wears combat boots. 🙂

Fact: Over 2/3 of my business is with brand new clients. Not via referrals, or IDX, or magic widgets, or wowing people on social media sites. I blog, but that’s it. Heck, I haven’t been able to benefit from direct mail to my own local market in nearly a decade. That’s gonna change soon, but ’til it puts multiple furry coats on the wall, who gives a tinker’s damn?

Somebody, anybody . . .

Please step forward and tell me a shiny toy or a new SM technique has been responsible for more than a few sales. For the sake of everything that’s holy, show me how Facebook or Twitter, or whatever other TimeSuck has brought a smile to your banker, who only speaks ‘deposit’.

I’m hoping somebody steps up with an example they can empirically document. However, I suspect it’ll be like every challenge before this.



Lunchtime links: Will the robo-signing settlement fail? Will Western Civ collapse to ruins? Who cares? Sheldon Cooper lives!

From good friend of the dawgs, Jim Klein, comes this grim reminder of the times we live in:

Todd Zywicki finds the robo-signing settlement unsettling.

But despair you nothing: There is a real-life Sheldon Cooper going to high school in Nevada.

Limited lunchtime? Give it all to the third article. It’s the best read, and the most inspiring. The world runs by itself, but your spirit does not. Feed it wisely.

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Schmoozing on-line with the Junior League may or may not get you a listing, but TwitBooking is corporate networking on steroids.

Spam from ARMLS:

On February 13, 2012, at a Special Called Meeting of the ARMLS Board of Directors, Bob Bemis tendered his resignation notice as ARMLS CEO, to accept the newly created position of Vice President of Partner Relations for Zillow, Inc. in Seattle.

Good on him. I’m thinking the retirement plan might be better, although I wonder how Bemis will fare in a non-DMV environment. I might start to worry about an echo-chamber, too, if it were me at the helm, but I don’t have much to do with social media — or with that kind of networking — to begin with.

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Two years ago, when the iPad was introduced, I said: “Google and MicroSoft can’t even copy genius.”

Vide licet:

With the iPad and its closed software universe, has Steve Jobs committed an unforced error — unnecessarily created an obvious opening for Google and MicroSoft to compete?

Today, Google says: “If you throw enough crap at the wall, sooner or later something’s gotta stick.”

Today, Microsoft says: “Pigs will eat anything.”

The revolution is not the technology.

This is the revolution: The consumer is now in charge.

Learn to love it — or get liquidated. PT Barnum’s day in the marketplace is done.


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