On the hunt for new real estate marketing tools!

The great folks at Inman News have asked me to put together a 15 minute presentation at SF Connect this year… and I’m downright excited about it.   The title of my presentation:  50 Technologies To Help You Survive the Downturn.

I’ve got some huge shoes to fill in that both Jamie Glenn of Trulia and Brian Boero of 1000watt have given versions of this presentation at recent Connect Events… and their presentations were top notch.

The Plan?

I’ve been given 15 minutes to talk about 50 technologies… Let’s break down into what that means in terms of the amount of time I have to explain each technology. Fifteen minutes is 900 seconds. Given the fact that I at least have to introduce myself and let my audience know I’m available for speaking gigs, I’ve already blow 30 seconds right there… Combined with the fact that I’ll need at least two 10-second water breaks, I’m down to 850 seconds or 17 seconds per technology!   I’m known for speaking fast, but the pressure is really going to be on!  😉

I Need Your Help!

Real estate agents: Do you have a favorite tool or technology that has become indispensable at making your business operations more efficient?   My preference is online tools, but I’ve have to find 50 of them, so I’m honestly not very picky at the moment!

Real estate tech providers: Do you have a tool you think is worthy of being featured at SF Connect?    Let me know, but make sure I can “sell” it 17 seconds or less!  I make no promises, but again, I’ve got to find 50 tools in less than 50 days, so I’d appreciate any help you can give!

My Bag of Tricks

Here’s an outline of the previous presentation.

Jamie Glenn:

  • Listing Sites (12 sites)
  • Social Media (9 sites)
  • Multimedia (15 sites)
  • Communication (7 sites)
  • Blogging (9)

Total: 52 sites!  Plus, his last slide through in 9 “bonus” resources!

Brian Boero:

  • Things that will help you work smarter and cut costs (10 actions)
  • Things that let you engage customers and prospects in new ways (8 actions)
  • Things that will help you grow your professional network (3 actions)
  • Blogs you should read (and watch) (7 actions)
  • Market smarter – and cheaper (6 actions)
  • New advertising opportunities (5 actions)
  • Technologies that help you leverage your knowledge (3 actions)
  • Things that shrink space and time (3 actions)
  • Technologies that help you meet the neighbors (4 actions)

Total: 49 actions.   Although much to his credit, each-and-every “action” included at least one technology tool and many of them included multiple tools!!!

I have both presentations in front of me, and I can tell you that they both did an excellent job of providing a wealth of information in only 15 minutes!

My Presentation

Lucky for me, I still have over a month!   Unlucky for me, I just typed out all the notes I’ve taken to date and I have only 33 technologies listed that are appropriate for the title: “50 Technologies To Help You Survive the Downturn.”

Here’s an outline of how I grouped the various tools, concepts, websites so far (but note, I’m positive the final outline will be MUCH different):

  • Online Marketing Basics
  • Publishing Tools
  • CRMs
  • Inspiration
  • Analytics
  • Listing Syndication
  • Listing Tools
  • Connecting with Consumers
  • Connecting with Professionals
  • Video Podcasts
  • Communications
  • Identity Management

However, rather than bias you’all by starting with my list of sites I would include (or listing out the websites from the the previous presentations), I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear some of the tools, techniques and technologies that you think would be worthy of being included in this list!

Congrats to FrontDoor for picking up…

Kelly Roark.    With her experience as a VP at both Inman and Trulia, she’ll be able to bring some great industry insights to the FrontDoor team.

One of the things I really like about Kelly is that she’s not afraid to get into the trenches…  A great example is when she came up to Seattle with Sami to meet with the RCG community.   The agent community was extremely skeptical about Trulia at that point, so I think it is appropriate to attribute at least part of Trulia’s success to Kelly’s ability to reach out to the broker/agent/blogger community.

Learning, learning, learning…

After last Thursday’s event, Jim and I took the weekend to relax and digest what we learned. The break was nice, but now we’re ready to hit the next event up harder than ever!   😉

Here are some of the things that I learned from our first event:

  • The people in the audience seemed to respond really well to the entire program, with almost everyone telling me the course was a great value (including agents who I’d consider to be quite internet savvy!). However, in marketing it to brokers and agents, many felt that the price ($149) and the time (8 hours) were too much.
  • The enthusiasm of the sponsors and the ability for us to get exactly the sponsors we wanted was a pleasant surprise.
  • The audience really responded well to Jim’s presentation on measuring and tracking ROI.   There’s obviously a lot of pent-up demand for this kind of extremely practical, nuts-and-bolts, education.
  • The most effective marketing was when brokerages/sponsors recommended that their agents/clients take part.

Based on what we learned, here are the changes we’re making to our next event in Orange County:

  1. We’re dropping the price to $49 per person!
    • This can only be done because of the awesome sponsorships we’ve been able to get from companies like Altos Research, Inman News, Zillow, Top Producer and Diverse Solutions. The willingness of the sponsors to support our effort to spread quality internet marketing education to agents is the ONLY reason we can drop this price so darn low!
  2. We’re going to squeeze all of our content into 4 hours
    • This will let us start at 9am and end at 1pm. To make this work, here is our new schedule:
      • 9am to 9:15: Intro (by Dustin)
      • 9:15 to 10:15: Creating a performance based website (by Jim)
      • 10:15: 10:30: 1st break
      • 10:30 to 10:45: Effectively engaging in social networks (see change #3)
      • 10:45 to 11:45: Creating local communities with blogs
      • 11:45 to noon: 2nd break
      • Noon to 1pm: Measuring and tracking your marketing ROI
    • The things we have to cut to make this work are lunch (1 hour), my discussion on social networking (from 1.5 hours to only 15 minutes), one break (15 min) and each presentation by 15 minutes.
  3. We will offer all attendees a free, 90-day, follow up course tentatively called Get 4RealzEd with 15 minutes a day
    • I’m more convinced than ever that the best way to get people knowledgeable on how to be effective within the various social networks is NOT to lecture on them, but to simply walk agents through a variety of social networks in simple steps.
    • At least for the first round, I’m going to keep this simple and send out a daily email with a simple (~15 min) social networking, blogging and/or ROI activity.
    • Attendees seemed to really respond well to this idea, so I’m quite excited about it going forward!
  4. Our next event will be in Orange County on April 17th
    • We’ve pushed back the dates on both the Orange County and San Diego events. We’re quite fortunate that some of our sponsors we’ve brought on in the past few weeks have shown an interest in helping us promote these events, so rather than rush things, we want to give them enough time to work their magic!

I really want to thank everyone for helping make the 4RealzEd event in LA such a success.   I learned a tremendous amount from the first event and feel more confident than ever that I’m on to something really big!  Because we’re still in the early stages of this roadshow (we haven’t even announced any events outside of southern California yet!), I expect we’ll continue to tweak things based on feedback we get from attendees and non-attendees alike, so please feel free to fire away with ideas, tips, critiques, and/or feedback… We’re listening!

The 1st 4RealzEd event was yesterday and…

4ealzEdI think I’ve recovered enough now to actually post about it! 🙂

Despite our best efforts to be prepared, the day started off a bit rough with a nearby mudslide taking out power in our building in the morning (meaning no hot coffee and no projector) and a 9-car pileup on a nearby freeway slowed me down tremendously. AHHH

So, to say it started rough would be an understatement… But once it started, things seem to get on a roll quickly.

I started with an overview of consumers expectations in a web2.0 world to set expectations for the day… Jim followed up with presentation on optimal features and design for a real estate website. Then it turned back to me for a presentation on social networking… lunch… then another presentation by me on creating value through blogging about communities. And we returned for the day’s finally with Jim giving a engaging presentation on measuring and tracking marketing results to ensure a positive ROI.

All around, it was a wonderful day! And, maybe they were just being nice, but the attendees who talked with me said only good things about the education.

Because I promised attendees I would give them a list of all the sites I mentioned in my presentations (so that they wouldn’t have to ask me to spell out each URL), here is the list for everyone’s benefit.

Consumer Expectations in a Web2.0 World:

Engaging in Social Networking to Earn Clients

Using Blogs to Build Communities

I wasn’t tracking the sites that Jim mentioned, but there were not nearly as many of them in his presentations…

And thanks again to all the bloggers who have helped spread the word about the event, the sponsors who helped us keep the price low and all the attendees who made the day possible!

I received some incredible feedback from all three groups, which is going to lead me to make some changes to the upcoming events (I’ll announce those early next week!). Great stuff all around. Thanks again to everyone!

Inman launches a new site with a new…

look and lots of new features. Congrats to everyone involved.

I know having talked with the team that they’ve put a lot of effort into this endeavor, so a huge congratulations to making it happen! Out of all the changes, I’ll be most interested to see how real estate professionals adopt some of their new adding social networking features. And based on the bloggers they were able to recruit to their new blog network (personal bias alert: they included 4realz), they are off to a great start!

But wait, there’s more news from Inman News!

I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that the extremely busy team at Inman News has also agreed to be a sponsor of the 4Realz Internet Marketing seminars.

The genesis of the sponsorship started a few months ago when I had a conversation with Joel where we marveled at how responsive real estate professionals have been to our various presentations on social media marketing.

When I left Move and decided to start the 4Realz seminars, it was a no-brainer for me to reach out to the Inman News team as they obviously know how to put on a real estate event.

However, our conversations quickly went deeper than just sharing information as the Inman team seemed to genuinely share my vision for creating a platform that educates real estate professionals on how they could use internet marketing tools to improve their business.

Between their massive new design, new professional social network, new blog network, new consumer angle, etc., the Inman News team is clearly firing on all cylinders at the moment, so I want to give a special thanks to them for taking the time to make this sponsorship happen!

45 Things I Learned at RE Connect

(some names left anonymous to protect the innocent)

  1. There’s a hell of a lot of VC money floating around this industry. I was surprised at how many people there were with lots of VC funding. Joel seemed to notice the same thing: “a whole new crop of real estate search sites that are going to be hitting the market”
  2. Reporter from the REALTOR Magazine was in the audience of our presentation. (thanks to Ines for pointing out the story: NAR is opening their eyes to blogging.)
  3. Zillow dropped their beta tag.
  4. Zillow’s big press release (picked up by many others) was a case of “make-news”. I’d be worried for their business if they weren’t making the improvements they announced (adding more listings, improving the quality of Zestimates, dropping beta, etc.). Joel doesn’t write much about of the improvements, while Greg quotes it extensively and seems to gush about their RETS announcement, which even the Zillow team pulls back from in the comments.
  5. Trulia was profitable for at least one month last year expects to be profitable at some point this year.
  6. According to comScore, Trulia had more traffic than Zillow in December! (Congrats Mike on the awesome prediction)
  7. comScrore and Hitwise are measuring traffic on two different internets. (Hitwise shows Trulia with 1.45% of category traffic and Zillow with 2.28%).
  8. Also interesting from the Hitwise report is that Move.com moved from #2 to #5, while RE/Max moved from #2 to #5. That’s big enough news where I would have expected to see a Press Release. Realtor.com at #1 and Move.com at #2 is huge for Move, Inc., even if it is only for December. (Oddly, I’m getting all the Hitwise numbers for December from an Inman Blog article on my feedreader. The actually article was removed from their site for some reason, so maybe the numbers are butchered!)
  9. Vast.com acquired Adaptive Real Estate Services (ARES). (That answers one question, although it does not give me any confidence that Vast.com has thought out their listing content acquisition strategy)
  10. Lots of neighborhood projects coming out. Here’s my (unsolicited) advice to anyone looking to build a successful social network in this space. If you really want consumer adoption, you’ve got to have a clear answer to this question: “What’s the consumer benefit?” So, so, so many of the “social networks” I saw this week were focused around real estate professionals. ActiveRain was an anomaly. Be able to explain your consumer proposition clearly, or don’t expect success.
  11. With that said, VillageMaker from RealProSystems will likely be a success… in that agents will the product, not in the sense that consumers will use it. This is the ultimate social network with the real estate professional at the center of the transaction in that a real estate agents must invite consumers to this platform. Sounds great, except it won’t work for all but a few agents.
  12. I am now the owner of “all the marbles”.
  13. Google staff really don’t like it when you take pictures inside their offices. Don’t be evil (Jay noticed this too!)
  14. Saul Kline is still the same great guy even after becoming CEO of Point2. (Frances has photos). His stated approach for moving Point2 forward is sound, although I’ll let him explain that approach when he’s ready.
  15. Lots of start-ups are twisting and turning to think how they an make their products more REALTOR friendly in the hopes of catching some Second Century funding! Mark Lesswing is a popular man at these conferences.
  16. I was surprised how many tech start ups get funding with only the roughest plans to get listings. Teresa gets that this is a mistake!
  17. Trulia launched their Publisher Platform. Robbie loves this! I can’t tell what Joel thinks… and Greg pans the service. I don’t follow Greg’s logic that it weakens overall traffic to Trulia… Mainly because nobody in the online real estate space has enough market penetration to think there are a finite number of users for their services. Trulia needs more listings. If this helps convince more brokers that they need to send their feeds to Trulia, then it is a good move. (Joel has an example of what the branded service looks like on FOREM)
  18. I really liked one startup and can’t wait until they launch in a little bit because I want to see how they market themselves. The product is an (solid) incremental improvement on search, but I don’t think it is enough of an improvement to go viral on its own.
  19. The beer for bloggers event is a great way to start off a conference. (photos on the Zillowblog and Sellsius).
  20. Teresa has some great photos from the week, including this action shot of me. Dito for Jeff.
  21. The WellcomeMat boys are quite the fun crowd. I really want to see them succeed because the technology is top-notch. Next step for them is figuring out a way so that their users don’t have to do their own marketing. If uploaded listing videos were getting hundreds (or even dozens), I think they’d be well on-their-way to being a a must-have product for most agents.
  22. I’m more bullish after RE Connect on Altos Research.
  23. Drew found a way to work at RE Connect. I’m not sure how he pulled it off.
  24. Professor Nouriel Roubini didn’t show up to RE Connect with the idea of making a lot of friends. He was consistently vocal in his belief that the downside to this market is going to be HUGE. He made Noah look like a moderate! (Here’s the video!)
  25. While I didn’t plan to go to many of the sessions, I surprised myself by going to only one session (see previous comment).
  26. I LOVE NYC.
  27. While I enjoy writing the occasional update, I’m simply not a good twitterer. On the other hand, Daniel is the twitter man.
  28. Apparently, there is a $15B dollar opportunity in the online real estate space since I heard multiple people throw that number around.
  29. Rumor has it that Cyberhomes is going to spend a LOT of money on advertising this year in order to reach out to consumers. This is a change from my take on their original approach in that they were going to focus on reaching out to agents by offering them a “white-label Zillow”. I like Marty Frame a lot, but I don’t think ads will do the trick. I hope they have one-more thing up their sleeve.
  30. Kris Berg is always lovely. Offline or online, she is one of my favorite people in the RE.net.
  31. Jay Thompson is another one that I found to be just as great in person. Networking with people like him is the reason to travel to NYC.
  32. The business mind of Damen Pace doesn’t stop moving.
  33. Rudy has some mad video editing skills.
  34. Daniel is the video man! It’s obvious he loves this stuff.
  35. As one would expect, Lockhart is quickly growing his team at Curbed and it was a lot of fun to meet them at the NYT party. From what I saw, Lockhart tried to dampen expansion rumors. He would only talk about Chicago at this point.
  36. BofA bought Countrywide. Lots of commentary on Jillayne’s post on RCG and Brian Brady’s post on Bloodhound.
  37. Redfin’s PR about returning $10M to consumers didn’t do much for me. I’ll be more interested to find out when they start making business model changes in order to get profitable.
  38. People have begun calling Rain City Guide “Ardell’s Blog” behind my back! LOL!
  39. Inman will soon be launching a new website with new features and a new design.
  40. Up Yours! Video TV war! Intothebox.tv rips on BrokerIPtv.com (around second 40). Not to take sides, but I was interviewed by the BrokeIPtv team at RE connect, and will be interested to see what comes out of that. On the other side, Rachel of Intothebox is oddly interesting… In watching, I just keep waiting for something to fall or break.
  41. I could never repeat linkation too many times. I keep repeating myself and people continue to act like it is new information. Please tell me if and when I need to stop with the linkation bit. 🙂
  42. ActiveRain introduced a few new people from their team. Rumor was that they have some funding that they will announce soon.
  43. Brendan King and other ex-Point2 folks were passing out business cards with the company name VendAsta. My guess is that the name is only temporary.
  44. Greg Tracy has branched out the BlueRoof brand to start doing consulting and website building for other real estate professionals. He “gets it”, so I can only imagine further success ahead.
  45. I really do enjoy just about everyone in the RE.net and real estate tech communities. 2008 is going to be fun!

Phew! Now I think I’m caught up so that I can get back to regular updates!

InternetCrusade and RISMedia partner to?

The way I read the press release, RISMedia has adopted InternetCrusade’s RealTown blog platform as their social networking interface. I think this is something akin to an official endorsement, but there could also be an understanding that RISMedia will integrate the RealTown’s community content on their site. However, I didn’t see any details suggesting what this partnership will look like.

I first heard about it from Maureen, but it is Jonathan who has the first bit of analysis. His take is that the announcement is really no big deal and I tend to agree. Nonetheless, I can see how this would make sense to both companies and really plays to both companies strengths, which is in their connection to the industry. I think the idea behind the partnership is that they can use their connections to encourage real estate professionals to engage more deeply on their sites.

But as with another recent InternetCrusade-related announcement, I’m a bit skeptical that the two companies really understand the types of innovation that will be necessary to attract consumers. I believe that focusing on the benefits to the real estate professionals first is going about it backwards. I strongly believe that the next round of social networks that will be adopted by real estate professionals are the ones that get massive consumer adoption. Without consumers, the benefit to participation is simply too low for more agents.

It seems relevant to reiternate a comment I made a few weeks ago (thanks to Jim for reminding me of it!): “I really don’t care if its a new CMS, new listing tool, new social network, new blogging tool, new MLS backend, or new analysis reports… If you can get enough consumer eyeballs, the real estate agents will follow.”