To advertise or not to advertise?

ap-supersonic-skydiver-4_3_r560Is that really the question?

This great pandodaily article by Kirk Cheyfitz about the best ads of 2012 that aren’t really ads, reminded me just how impressed I’ve always been with Red Bull’s marketing machine.

One of the defining “TV moments” for me this past year is when I watched the “Red Bull” guy (I should probably remember his name), crawl down the ladder of the space capsule and jump. That was a crazy moments when you have an incredible opportunity to prove yourself.

The takeaway?  Very few of us may have access to Red Bull’s marketing budget, but when we throw on our marketing hat, we should all be aspiring to think outside the box and make an incredible impact in 2013!

Now Open! The 4realz Bookstore

Early today I was having a conversation with Eric Bryn on twitter when he said:

have you read Guy Kawasaki’s book Art of the Start’?

which was all the impetuous I needed to finally get around to publishing my very own online marketing bookstore here on 4realz. This is something I’ve been thinking about doing ever since I built a similar (Amazon-powered) bookstore for a client, but just never took the time to do for myself.

4realz-bookstore-screenshot

So far, I have three categories of books:

  • Online Marketing
  • Starting Your Business
  • Blogging

and only two books in each category.   My idea is to limit the books under each category so as to make it a “best” of breed books…

Nonetheless, I like the idea of adding a few more books to each of the categories and potentially even another category of two, so if you have a book that should be included because it’s been particularly inspiring to you, definitely let me know!

Maybe I can offer a totally different perspective

Hurricane Fannie Freddie got me thinking about an email that I sent out to a Seattle real estate agent not too long ago.     The agent emailed me to say that she thought Rain City Guide’s negativity was only making the Seattle real estate market worse and that we should provide a more positive outlook.

This was not the first email I’ve received like this (far from it), and so I thought I’d share my response with 4realz readers since it may help you uncover a bit of what has worked on RCG over the past 3 1/2 years (note: I modified the email substantially to protect the innocent):

Dear Seattle real estate agent,

Maybe I can offer a totally different perspective.

As you seem to understand by your email, Rain City Guide is an awesome marketing tool that generates lots of interest among seattle real estate consumers and substantial business for many of the active participants.   However, I think the reason we are successful often gets lost on industry insiders.

There’s no doubt that the group of contributors to RCG often takes a slightly negative twist (some might argue “realistic”) on the market and that in general, the most active participants are extremely pro-consumers at the expense of the industry.   For industry-insiders like yourself, this can often seem completely inappropriate (as you mentioned!), but for those of us generating business by tapping into an honest dialog with consumers about the market, it can often seem odd that anyone would take any other position.

Truth is, I can’t think of one successful real estate blogger (i.e. one who is generating substantial business from blogging) who views their job to look out for the industry.

While it might be in the best interest of the industry for RCG to put a positive spin on today’s market, from my perspective, it’s in the best interest of each contributor to take a position that a vast majority of consumers can relate to.   For consumers, the market sucks… and that includes most of the people who are considering buying and/or selling right now.    And my experience has been that if you tell an internet consumer anything they don’t want to hear, they’ll simply do another google search and find an agent, website or blog that matches with their reality.

My recommendation? As you contribute comments (and maybe some day posts) to RCG, focus on consumers and (pretty much) ignore the other contributors.  And if you do decide to give industry-spin, then be prepared that RCG readers love to point out self-serving agents and RCG contributors are often more than happy to distance themselves from industry insiders because they’re looking to earn clients, not industry friends.

Essentially, don’t be the “example” that other contributors can focus on to differentiate themselves.  Instead, focus on relating directly to consumers with the most authentic dialog you can muster.  There’s plenty of business to be generated by all if you fight for the consumer’s heart and mind.

And just to be clear, this perspective has everything to do with the expectations of internet consumer and very little to do with RCG.  This honest dialog between agents and consumers goes on, and will continue to go on, with or without RCG.

I hope this helps! Best,

-Dustin

I’d be fascinated to hear your thoughts on my email.  Does this philosophy work outside of Seattle?  Or am I just totally missing the boat on what makes RCG tick?