10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Your Smart Phone

Just walked out of the first Fusion event put on by the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate crew… So much fun!

I had a great time on stage yesterday with Jeff Turner, Gahlord Dewald and Wendy Forsythe talking internet marketing, building online influence, tracking and measuring results and the real value of conversations.

Also got a chance to hear some very inspiring speakers… I had never heard Tom Ferry speak, so that was a real treat… And the final keynote speaker, Keith Ferrazzi, gave an incredible talk on steps to improving business relationships.   (Did I mentioned I also got to hang with so many cool people like Andy Kaufman and Herman of Hermanity! AND that my grandma came out to watch one of my presentations! Again, so much fun!)

My involvement was to give two presentations.  The first on Building Online Influence and the second on 10 Things You didn’t Know You Could do with Your Smartphone.  Both were a lot of fun to give and since I promised the audience I’d share linkes to each of the apps I mentioned in the latter presentation, I thought I’d share them in this post. Enjoy!

Evernote
1. Take voice notes while driving
2. Scan text out of photos
3. Find your parked car

Beluga
4. Use group chat to keep up with your team

CardMunch
5. Accurately scan business cards

Amazon Price Check
6. Comparison shop

Starbucks
7. Pay for coffee

Square
8. Get paid for coffee

BoxCar
9. Get push notification for important emails

MadMimi
10. Build your email list

And I’m always looking to deliver super-informative (and fun!) internet marketing presentations, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you hear of an interesting opportunity!

BuzzRE OC Wrap-up!

The BuzzRE  OC event was so awesome…   I met so many great people and the speakers came through with awesome presentations. Thanks again to everyone who took the time to join us!

Some of the highlights were:

  • Jon Lansner: Compared to any time in recent memore, there’s actually some good news to talk about in the real estate market
  • Stacey Harmon: Understanding which social networks to focus on based on your business practice
  • Dale Chumbley: Ways to bridge your real-life community activity with your Facebook community
  • Robert Luna: Importance of focusing on your home search consumers
  • Gahlord Dewald:  Always be testing!
  • Loren Nason: Get on dropbox.  It’s time!
  • Garron Selliken: from @YvonneArnoldCRS:   “@garrons “what is the moment that u set new appt?” Then look at it backwards, how did u get there. Work 2 get in position more often #BuzzRE

And it all couldn’t have happened without Linsey Planeta putting a ridiculous amount of time and passion into the day.  She rocks!

One of the things I most enjoyed about helping to organize BuzzRE was organizing the presentations…  I had every speaker email me their presentation in advance so I could fit them into one solid presentation that didn’t feel like it was jumping around too much.   I’m pretty darn proud of the final product and super-happy to share it with you via slideshare.

What a great day!  It really is awesome to see so many folks get excited about implementing advanced strategies and websites.   If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this page of advanced real estate websites.

And after such an awesome event, it’s now time to turn to organizing another awesome BuzzRE in Portland in early June. Want to get involved? Let us know!

If you have feedback about yesterday’s event, I know all of us would sure would love to hear it!

WordPress at Real Estate Connect SF?

Are you breaking the rules with WordPress in real estate? I wanna know!

wordpress sticker on laptopThe good folks at Inman News have asked me to moderate the WordPress Summit at Real Estate Connect this summer and I couldn’t be more excited!

While we haven’t tried to confirm any speakers yet (that’s where I want your help), I’m positive the lineup is going to be awesome. We’re going to be covering themes, plugins, strategy, advanced installs, listings, and the future of WordPress!

The idea of a half-day at Real Estate Connect dedicated to WordPress is simply awesome.   I love WordPress and have been using it since the very birth of Rain City Guide (over 5 years ago!).  Over the years I’ve been a part of too many WordPress blogs than I could count… And unlike a lot of software I was using in 2005, WordPress has continued to improve with each iteration!    Especially now that website vendors are building in advanced IDX and CRM tools into the platform, it’s become a no-brainer option for real estate professionals!

By the way, did you know the new conference website for Real Estate Connect was built on WordPress?

I think it’s a pretty slick design and implementation, although I’m probably a bit biased since we designed and built the site!  🙂

Coming full circle… If you know someone in the real estate space doing interesting things with WordPress, send ’em my way!   I want to make this the best half-day on WordPress educational event around!

And finally, a huge hat-tip to Dan Woolley for the idea behind this post when he wrote about his ConnectTech Workshop!

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!

The trouble with Marc’s approach to Twitter

Like many real estate professionals who are using the internet to market themselves, Marc seems to be overlooking the fact that the best clients come from your friends… your real friends.

Most agents know this implicitly, but don’t necessarily make the connection to how they need to operate online.

For example…

A good friend of mine, who conveniently happens to be a real estate agent, hates internet leads. Doesn’t want to deal with them.   For years (he actually attended one of my bloginars in July ’06) , I’ve been telling him about the importance of SEO, “owning” his own domain, link structure, quality content, relevant traffic, etc, and while he humors me (he’s become a good friend after all), his heart has never been in it.  As he likes to remind me, internet leads are crap and he just passes them off to others when he gets them anyway.

However, on a recent conversation, we were talking about where he’s getting his business and he mentioned Facebook (he’s very active on Facebook and MySpace having uploaded thousands of photos and shared countless stories).  Says his friends on Facebook have been treating him well lately sending him great clients and he’d love to get more.  But he doesn’t consider those “internet” leads since the clients typically come to him on a recommendation from a friend.

I think it’s worth reiterating.  People who find him on the internet aren’t worth his time. People who get recommended to him from his Facebook friends help pay his bills.

So, now to bring this back to Marc’s post on twitter…  Marc says:

“You can either post gibberish or you can choose instead to post content about what’s happening in your marketplace right now that does or could have consequences for your reader.”

I can guarantee that if my friend had spent the past two years limiting his online participation to writing content that had consequences for his marketplace, he’d not only have a small fraction of friends on the site, but Facebook would not be providing him any meaningful business.  Worse, his most common “friend” would probably be other real estate professionals who accept this boring banter on social networks.

With that said, I’m a HUGE fan of agents creating a place where they can share their knowledge and expertise by creating content that has consequences for their marketplace… And my other website, Rain City Guide, does a great job generating business by creating this type of content (and I’d argue generates more business for our agents, mortgage brokers, title reps, lawyers, etc. than any other real estate blog).

But to compare the value of Twitter banter (or banter on Facebook or any other “social” network) to the content created on a site like Rain City Guide is to completely confuse the value of unknown internet clients with clients recommended to you by your friends.

If you don’t mind dealing with internet leads, then by all means focus on building out a website like Rain City Guide that will drive relevant traffic.

However, if you want your real friends to start sending you clients, then you better start interacting with them in a “real” way.  Maybe that means throwing ridiculously cool parties, joining the local PTA, coaching a little league team, or sharing inside jokes and other gibberish on Twitter.  Either way, your real friends expect you to be a real person.

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?

“In fact some lawyers would rather see their name…

…at the top of search results or on the back of a phone book than have a reputation as a trusted and reliable authority in a niche area of the law.”

Notorious Rob has some interesting insight around how to use social media

Moving to a Self Hosting Platform from WordPress.com

So, it’s been a half-day since the big move and everything appeared to have gone pretty smoothly.   While I followed my steps pretty darn closely, there were a few adjustments.   So here are the steps I used to move from a hosted wordpress.com account to a self-hosted environment:

  1. Export posts/comments/categories/etc XML file to hard-drive
  2. Save a copy of the blogroll’s OPML file
  3. Copy the header graphic to hard-drive
  4. Set up new database with the host and configure wp-config.php file to point to new servers.
  5. Upload, but don’t activate, wordpress files to the new host servers *
  6. Publish posts on your existing blog saying changes are on the way  (Here’s my example) 🙂
  7. Change DNS settings using your domain registrar to point to your new host.
  8. Ask new host to recognize 4realz.net as the new primary domain (this step probably really depends on the host)
  9. When your host recognizes 4realz.net as the primary domain, configure MX settings.
  10. Wait for DNS settings to take effect and begin redirecting traffic to the new site!
  11. When your local ISP recognizes the new site, then run the WordPress 5 min install
  12. Import blog posts from XML file.  After uploading the initial file, be sure to confirm you want to batch in multimedia.**
  13. Configure theme, activate plugins, import blogroll, etc.

* Note I actually ran threw a test where I completed steps 1 through 4 AND activated the WP blog using the dummy domain I had set up with the host just to make sure I would have no problems installing WP on their backend. I then deleted everything and started over for the “official” move because it seems more intuitive to me to wait to “activate” the WP blog until after it’s going to be configured to the correct domain.

** At this state, I had to change the “php.ini to allow for uploads greater than 2MB. Not hard, but also not self-evident. And a great reason to do a the test I mentioned in the first note.