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!

The Benefits of Relentless Networking

Credibility Corp Summer Interns 2012Last year, I was asked to give a presentation to CLU students and decided to focus on the idea that they should be relentless in their networking!

Often, when preparing for a talk, I “learn” something new or have an insight that sticks with me. For this talk, it was definitely that people looking to break into the business world should feel comfortable “over-promising” based on their current knowledge and then work their behind off to deliver on lofty goals!

Anyway, I clearly don’t go to slideshare.net nearly often enough, because I just visited the site and noticed that the presentation I created for that event has over 10K views! Woot! Glad to see so many folks found it useful!

On a related note, that talk at CLU brought in some awesome interns this past summer/fall and I’m back on the hunt for some more! If you know anyone interested in a crazy cool internship opportunity in either online marketing or technology development (developers!), send them my way! I’ve been interviewing people for the past few weeks and we’re sure to have another great crew this spring!

Getting more value out of your LinkedIn connections…

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how to get more value out of LinkedIn, but I really haven’t given enough love to the site since them…  And I have an idea for how to change that.  Starting this week, I’m going to start writing one recommendation each week.

I’m starting this “recommendation” project with Kris Berg because she’s one of my favorite people in the world of real estate…  (Plus she doesn’t have many recommendations on LinkedIn which is a true shame!   If you know and like her, you should stop reading this post and head over to her profile and write a recommendation for her as well!)

Why commit to writing a weekly recommendations?

I have two purposes:

  1. It’s fun.  I really do enjoy the process of complementing folks who I’ve enjoyed working with and wish I did more of it.
  2. I want to play more with LinkedIn as a sphere building tool, but don’t want to dedicate a ton of time to the project.  I’m guessing I can knock out a solid recommendation in less than 20 minutes a week.

With that said, there’s so much more to LinkedIn these days with groups, Q&A, job opportunities, etc. that I’m sure there’s much more I *could* be doing.     If you have a more effective way to use LinkedIn, please share!  😉

Real Estate WordCamp is Coming to NARdiGras!

I’ve been working with the NAR team to put together a WordPress event at NARdiGras, and couldn’t be more excited that we’re ready to start announcing details!

In a nutshell, we’ve broken the half-day event into two tracks — one for beginners and one for more advanced WordPress users — and the folks we’ve agreed to present are some of the most knowledgeable WordPress people in real estate.  All the sessions will be be on the morning of Monday, November 8th.

Below is a summery of the schedule, although this page on the NARdiGras site will quickly become the definitive source of all session information soon!

Track 1: An Introduction to WordPress

Track 2: Maximizing WordPress

The idea is that if you’re relatively new to WordPress (and even if you don’t have a wordpress site yet!), you should be able to leave the first track with enough knowledge to feel comfortable setting up a site and have an idea for what a successful website marketing strategy would look like.

For those who are comfortable blogging, Todd Carpenter is going to be hosting the Maximizing WordPress track. With Kelley, Steve and Gahlord as presenters, you’re sure to get tons of tools and strategies to take your online marketing to the next level.

I couldn’t be more excited to be heading to New Orleans again and look forward to seeing you there!

BuzzRE: Internet Marketing Education for Realtors

About two months ago, the HomeQuest team put on a real estate educational event in Portland that I thought rock’d…  With four great speakers (Gahlord Dewald, Garron SellikenDavid Gibbons and myself) and some help from some local title reps, we brought together a few hundred agents to teach them about how they could improve their online marketing.

It was so much fun that I started pushing the team to create a similar event in Southern California…  and the team not only supported the idea, but everyone seems genuinely excited.  Assuming you’re a SoCal agent, then the only details you need to know are that we’re going to have the event on April 29th (9am to noon), it will cost only $20 and you can reserve your spot here: http://buzzreoc.eventbrite.com/

But for those that need more, here’s the catch… I want to improve upon the Portland event! And here’s my four ideas for how we can do that:

  1. Make sure we have even more great speakers!
    • We’re gonna have 8 formal presentations instead of 4… and a panel of 3 local agents who have successfully incorporated internet marketing in their business
  2. Make sure the presentation part of the day is extremely focused
    • We’re going to follow an overall structure that generally follows an Agent’s Work Cycle
    • We’re going to do it all in 2 hours, meaning each speaker will be giving approximately 15 minutes forcing them to focus on the stuff they find most important
    • We’re going to create one “overall” presentation so that we don’t spend time flipping between laptops/presentations and someone (in this case: me) is in charge of making sure the presentations will have a logical flow
  3. Make sure to include local agents who are actively generating substantial business from their internet marketing activities
    • So far, one local agent who has been rocking Facebook has agreed to be on the panel and I hope to announce the other two panelists in the next few days!
  4. Make sure the event is memorable!
    • For this, we’re giving it a fun name: BuzzRE OC  and…
    • We’re going to make sure it’s the most cost-effective educational event for every agent who attends.

So who’s involved?

Here’s the list of speakers as well as the tentative name of their presentations:

I’m convinced we can cover all of these super interesting topics in only 2 hours!   This means that we can plan for a solid 45 minute panel conversation with local agnets are doing interesting internet marketing and be able to wrap the whole event up in less than 3 hours!  As of right now, I have one panelist confirmed, one who has tentatively agreed and on the hunt for one more. The panelist situation:

  • Robin Milonakis:  who’s been rocking the Facebook world.
  • “Blogging” agent: I have a tentative agreement from an awesome blogger agent, but I don’t want to give her name until she’s confirmed
  • “AdSense” agent: I want one local agent who’s generates serious business from online ad buying to round the group out… If you have a recommendation for an appropriate agent, I’m all ears!

And please, please, please… If you have ideas for what we should cover in each section (or you have a better name for any of the presentations!), let us know!   In an ideal world, we’d be able to take the general presentation (from sphere marketing to lead generation to client management and back to sphere marketing) and bring it to many other parts of the country!   (Bringing in local experts where appropriate!)

I’m really hoping to create a can’t miss educational event for real estate agents and would love any and all help you can give in spreading the word. One more time, here’s the details:

Can’t wait to see you in the OC!

Fitting Internet Marketing into an Agent’s Biz Flow

Over the past 6 months, I’ve had numerous (too many to count) conversations with Garron Selliken about tools we could build for HomeQuest clients and/or M Agents…  Rather than just building cool stuff because we *could*, Garron consistently brings almost every conversation about new tools back to an understanding of how the tool is going to fit into the Agent’s business flow.   So much so, that I’ve completely reoriented my thinking and developed a mental model of the agent’s biz cycle in order to track where various tools and ideas fit into the work flow of an agent.

After presenting this “mental” model to a few different audiences, I’ve realized that this model is not only providing the backbone for my presentations, but also for how we think of our product development cycle at HomeQuest…  And because I’m using this concept as the backbone of the BuzzRE OC event we’re currently organizing for later this month, I thought I’d share this slide and my reasoning behind it’s importance.

The idea behind the slide is that there’s a core cycle common to all agent biz cycles:

  • Using some type of lead generation technique/tool, agents identify prospects out of their sphere or by directly reaching out to consumers
  • Using client management techniques/tools, agents provide the information and tools so that they can turn help prospects become clients
  • Using sphere building techniques/tools, agents bring past clients and other people from their community into their sphere

For many highly successful agents, the core cycle (sphere to prospects to clients to sphere ) is the basis for their “referral” business… which, even among “internet-savvy” realtors, is the main source of business for most realtors.

The main reason I like this tool is that it helps shape how I think about various tools.   In other words, an agent’s “hub” (i.e. website/blog/home search tool) can be an awesome lead generation tool, but only part of the story if good client management tools are missing.   Other tools, like DocuSign, don’t add much to lead generation, but can be valuable in the client management stage of the cycle.   And finally, some tools, like Facebook, Twitter, and even largely blogs, are awesome at sphere building, but rarely make for effective lead generation or client management tools.

Tomorrow, I’m going to publish the outline for the BuzzRE OC Event and start to explore how the presentation from each of the speakers (we have 8 great speakers lined up!) can fit into the agent’s business flow.  However, for today, I thought I would end by asking a few questions that this chart raises for me:

  • Are there any agent work-flows that wouldn’t fit into this cycle?
  • Where does “your” product fit into this cycle?
  • What parts of the cycle are most in need of useful tools?

NEO, or the Study of How to Optimize Content for Social Networks

This past weekend while giving a presentation in Chicago, I was talking to the following slide:

… about the importance of understanding how Facebook’s algorithms work when creating your Facebook marketing strategy when someone from the audience asked, “is this similar to understanding how SEO helps explain how Google ranks websites?”

And it hit me like a ton of bricks… EXACTLY! I’ve been working towards this idea for the past year few years, but had never articulated it that clearly.

So after a bit of refinement, I think it’s time for us (internet marketers) to add a new word to our vocabulary: NEO or Networking Engine Optimization.

In a nutshell, the idea of NEO is that by studying how social networks determine relevance, we can better understand how to optimize our marketing strategies.

Having spoken about using social media for business to many different professional audiences, I feel extremely confident in saying that very few people have any understanding of the algorithms that Facebook users to determine it’s “top news” or “suggested” friends/pages… some people, Dale Chumbley comes to mind, intuitively understand how to use these algorithms, but I’m not sure even he has put a ton of thought into why…

Assuming the feedback on this idea keeps me going, I’m hoping to explore a couple different areas of NEO… but the most interesting will definitely have to do with understanding how the “hard” algorithms interact with the “soft” people (friends, followers, fans, etc.) that really determine success.

In other words, whether talking about Facebook’s “top news” or Twitter’s “trending” topics, there’s no way to get any traction without having others interact with your content. My take is that there’s been a ton of thought into understanding the importance of engaging others in your social network (Jeff Turner’s done a particularly impressive job of this with exploring YEO), but engaging with others is only a piece of a successful internet marketing strategy and just about everyone who’s actively marketing with social media would benefit from a better understanding of the algorithms that determine the relevance of their content/presence.

Anyway, this is obviously an idea that I’m still in the early stages of exploring… and I would love to hear your thoughts. But especially based on the recent news that Facebook passed Google in terms of total traffic, isn’t it time to seriously explore how the social networks are determining the relevance of our content?

Talking (and talking…) online marketing in real estate

upcoming conferencesReal estate presentation season is in full swing!

After a great event last week with the Leading RE Companies of the world in Las Vegas, I’m off to Chicago later this week to talk about how to make Social Media Work for You, Atlanta next week to talk about how agents can optimize their lead management strategies… It also looks like I’ll be speaking in Portland, Orange County, and Toronto in the very near future, but those events are all at least two weeks away, so they haven’t hit my radar just yet!

I simply love engaging, challenging and entertaining a live audience… I may not be the best speaker, but I sure do have more fun than most! So if you know of anyone who’s looking for a speaker who can provide valuable education to a group of real estate professionals on developing an online marketing strategy, don’t hesitate to send them my way. While I’ve talked for years on blogging (my first real estate blogging presentation was in May 2006!), my current favorite topics to cover include building a real estate hub and developing a lead management strategy that works.

[Also, I have a super special request to make… About a year ago, I was invited to speak in Burmuda for a Christie’s Great Estate event… That was super cool. Total bonus points if you can get me a paid trip to an exotic location: New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, Paris, the Caribbean, etc… ;)]

And of course, if you’re going to be attending any of my talks, don’t hesitate to reach out and introduce yourself! Far and away the best business contacts I’ve made came after meeting people at conferences!