Category Archives: Business

Improving Localized Marketing: Simple Suggestions to Improve a Local Profile

With a number of companies looking to build their total marketing profiles online these days, many
businesses seemingly hit the wrong target points. For small businesses and restaurants, a failure to focus
on some local marketing techniques can also lead to a failure to experience full potential and returns on
business development and technology efforts.

Engaging in social media efforts are a must for any business trying to improve its digital footprint these
days, but even more so for those trying to improve their local footprint. With localization of social media
efforts, it’s always crucial to have a profile that’s geared specifically to the customers. With a small scale
company, using these social media profiles should be first used to build a local image.

With social media, one of the growing trends in major marketing is the use of check-in services. These
services have allowed many companies, from restaurants and retail stores, to really build up a larger
local reputation. With check-in services, businesses can offer discounts and benefits in exchange for
check-ins at the location of their business. With a high number of check-ins, businesses will see impact
from two separate ways. First, repeating customers will come back because of discounts and friends of
patrons will see the business throughout social media platforms, attracting new customers.

Along with social media improvements, businesses should also put a large focus on their online profile,
just like companies looking to improve national marketing strategies also do. Local businesses often
struggle to take advantage of some customers because of a failure to build an online presence. Even
though it may not seem normal, local businesses can still find major profits by expanding their websites
and digital footprint.

With a good website, many businesses are starting to look to mobile devices to further spread their
profiles. In a local setting, a restaurant or retail store can benefit from a mobile site by helping to
increase their search optimization. Also, mobile information is critical for potential customers who are
on the go, looking for either information or directions.

Once social media campaigns and a good website are setup to improve brand development, the site
can be spruced up in the content department to reach out to the customer base. The information on
the website can be targeted to remind visitors of the area where the business is located throughout the
site. Also, websites local information can be improved by putting the business’ directions on most of
the pages. By using this strategy, visitors to the website are continually reminded of exactly where the
business is.

A number of businesses are in search of strategies and suggestions on how to properly improve their
marketing footprint from a localized perspective. Many retail stores and restaurants often lack the
proper manpower or knowledge to truly have a great impact in their marketing efforts. For those
companies who may be short on staff or time, using professionals is a great option. For example, a store
or restaurant looking to break into a Florida market could use a Tampa, Jacksonville or Orlando SEO/
Development platform to really kick up their online profile.

-Guest Article by
Melinda Carter
melindacarter204@gmail.com

Social Media is not a Social Life…

Social Media is Still Media


It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity

- Albert Einstein


I remember riding around the neighborhood as a kid, stopping at friends houses until I found someone who could play. I usually didn’t even call first. I just got on my bike and rode.  I would see kids I wasn’t even going to see and we’d hang out and go see other friends together.

The neighborhood was our meeting place. The park, the school, the church lawn, or just riding around until we found each other.

When I was in high school we would meet after school and decide where to go or talk during the day and decide. In the summer there were so many friends around that we always knew what everyone was doing the next day.

Now I spend most of my free time with my family or having a drink with friends.

Certainly Facebook , Twitter and Blogging have become a part of my life and have value for me, but they are not my social life. Many people have began to live their lives through “social media” and I think it is important to remember that social media is still media. It is computers and phones and technology and it helps us keep connections, but there is a difference between social media and a social life.

I email and text message my friends all the time and I am certainly wired into technology. I own a technology company, get my business from the internet,  and I am on my iPhone all throughout the day, but not as a replacement for the real world.

Social, to me, means human interaction. Real touch and connection and dialogue with inflection and emotion. Laughing out loud- not LOL. Social is about feeling each other’s energy and being in the same space together.

At the coffee shop the other day I heard a girl tell the guy behind the counter that she had over 1000 MySpace friends and a few minutes later told someone on the phone that she “had no social life”. But the irony reached its peak when she was leaving and the guy told he would look her up online to chat. He didn’t even ask her email address- he would look her up.

Socia Media is Not a Social Life

I flew to the east coast last month to give a presentation that could have easily been done online with Gotomeeting but never could have resulted in me feeling like I knew the client like I do. Monday I am giving a presentation that could be very big for my company and when they asked me to put together a powerpoint I set up a time when I could show it to them in person.

You can tell a lot about someone by their handshake or the way they smile. The energy of being at a ballgame cannot be reproduced by video. And Twittering four hundred times a day or spending hours on Facebook cannot take the place of simply raising a glass with friends to toast life.

Offline…

How About a $15,000 Tax Credit for HomeBuyers?

home-buyers-need-help

The Senate voted unanimously tonight to include the Isakson Amendment, a tax credit of 10% of the sales price (up to $15,000), for home purchasers buying a primary residence  into the Stimulus Package. This would not need to be paid back and would be available for one year if it passes.

It still needs to make it into the final draft, due to be signed by the end of next week and hopefully this is one provision that will make the final cut.

Fence Sitting

The housing markets across the country could really use a boost and this could help. Many people are waiting to buy even though they are sitting in the middle of one of the best times to purchase they have ever seen and maybe this could help some of those who are on the fence make the decision to buy now, which will help the entire economy.

We can all use some good news right now and a lot of industries are looking for the government to help them, but fundamentally it makes sense to help kick start the housing sector. When more people begin buying homes the economy will benefit. There are so many jobs and companies that are affected by housing. Builders, contractors, road layers, Realtors, loan officers, title people, home inspectors, home warranty companies, attorneys, plumbers, electricians, carpet layers, home furnishing stores, and on and on and on…

Contact your local Senator or House Representative and tell them to keep this in the bill. This is the sort of stimulus we need to get the economy moving again…

**Update- Looks like the compromise is an $8000 tax credit for first time home buyers, who buy in 2009, that doesn’t need to be repaid.

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How the Real Estate Industry Could Destroy the World

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I’ve done some thinking research into what happened to the dinosaurs. How did such a powerful and broad range of species become extinct? Was it a crater slamming into the Earth? Or a volcano eruption that blacked out the skies?

No, it was neither- but something far worse and much, much more dramatic…

And today we are facing the beginning of a similar fate and it is being brought on by the real estate industry!

I attended a couple of closings this week at title companies different from the one I am used to using and I noticed, well, actually remembered, how thick every file is when we are done closing a transaction. The title company has a file of paper about an inch and a half thick, the client gets a copy of all of that so theirs is the same, the agent has a file that might be a half inch thick and the broker has a file that is the same. Then the mortgage company has their file, and the inspection company prints a freaking book report for the buyer, and the appraiser does their report.

Now factor in the “Just Listed” cards and “Just Sold” cards, the home warranty postcards and all the print marketing that it took to get and sell the listing.

Now, figure the gas it took to drive buyers around, the oil and other lubricants, liquids and air conditioning “goo” from every car.

There are millions of homes sold every year- Think of the carbon footprint we, as an industry, are leaving because of our work.

real-estate-recycle

We all need to do our part to pressure title companies to give copies of the transaction via email, lenders to allow digital signatures on everything, and encourage buyers to do as much home searching online as possible.

If we continue, we will kill all of our trees and all of the atmosphere resulting in extreme weather and lack of oxygen which will kill us all dead. Completely, all the way dead. And not a quick, painless death, but our skin will melt away slowly and we will become ill with disease and vomit and bleed from our eyes and it will be horribly painful.

Sure, someone could make a documentary about it all and probably make a lot of money but they would be dead too so they won’t be able to enjoy it.

And now you know- that is how the dinosaurs died. The plant-eaters ate all the trees and had no more to eat so they died and then the carnivores had to eat each other and their cars were putting out exhaust and burning the gas and it killed the atmosphere and they all died.

I know because I was there…

but-seriously-now

Let’s all do our part to print a little less, give copies of documents in emails, and drive less by providing good virtual tours and just encourage each other to think about our carbon footprint as an industry.

Top State Governments

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The PEW Center on the States has released it’s report grading all the states on how well their governments work and accomplish goals and objectives. They look at a lot of factors, including;

• Elected officials, the state budget office and agency personnel have appropriate data on the relationship between costs and performance and use these data when making resource-allocation decisions. • Agency managers have the appropriate information required to make program management decisions.• The governor and agency managers have appropriate data that enable them to assess the actual performance of policies and programs.• The public has appropriate access to information about the state, the performance of state programs and state services and is able to provide input to state policy makers.

People• The state regularly conducts and updates a thorough analysis of its human-capital needs.• The state acquires the employees it needs.• The state retains a skilled workforce.

• The state develops its workforce.

• The state manages its workforce-performance programs effectively.

Money• The state uses a long-term perspective to make budget decisions.• The state’s budget process is transparent, easy to follow and inclusive.• The state’s financial management activities support structural balance

between ongoing revenues and expenditures.

• The state’s procurement activities are conducted efficiently and supported

with effective internal controls.

• The state systematically assesses the effectiveness of its financial operations

and management.

Infrastructure• The state regularly conducts a thorough analysis of its infrastructure needs and has a transparent process for selecting infrastructure projects.• The state has an effective process for monitoring infrastructure projects throughout their design and construction.• The state maintains its infrastructure according to generally recognized engineering practices.

• The state comprehensively manages its infrastructure.

• The state creates effective intergovernmental and interstate infrastructure coordination networks.

That’s a lot of criteria and a lot of research. So, how did the state’s rank?

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The top state governments in information (with A’s) were Utah, Washington, Missouri, Virginia, and Michigan.

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For handling money the best government was Utah, which took the only A in the nation, follwed by Washington, Nebraska, Virginia, and Delaware, with A minuses.

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Infastructure, again Utah was the top state, and the only state earning an A. With A minuses were Florida, Kentucky and Michigan.

The report says of Utah, “there’s a lot to cheer about. Utah manages itself with savvy business acumen. Financial decisions are made wisely, with an eye toward return on investment and long-term performance in all facets of state government.”

Of Virginia, the reports states, “Virginia proves that tracking data—and holding employees accountable for outcomes—can work wondrous efficiencies.”

And of Washington, the report says, “Washington has been a consistent leader in results-based governance. It was ahead of nearly all other states in controlling spending by keeping track of where investments were and were not paying off.”

New Hampshire had the worst grade in the country, with an overall D+. The study says, “The governor, who serves a two-year term, doesn’t necessarily appoint—and cannot remove—his own agency heads, who serve four-year terms. So the governor can spend lots of time banging heads with other members of his own cabinet. “The basic system of government is designed to make it difficult to transform anything,” explains one former state official.”

Point2 Agent Shaken Up- Good For Consumers and Agents

better-solution.png 

I don’t know as much about Point2 Agent  as a company as many agents do, but I am a member and have used the system. It seems to me to be an entry-level type service with a template website given and then you pay for add-ons and additional services. One thing I do know is that the company, as far the real estate piece of what they do, is centered around template websites. I think it’s important for our industry to evolve and maybe it’s time to begin to step-up to a higher level of website than templates offer.

There are better options than templates.

For most agents, a template website is their only on-line presence- either a template or an “agent page” on their broker’s website. So consumer’s see all these template sites and it affirms to them that agents don’t know much about technology. Often the consumer ends up going to the better websites (clean user-interface, enjoyable search experience, etc) that they can find, and in most areas Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia are the best they can find.

Problem with Trulia, Realtor.com and Zillow is they are not real estate companies- they are technology companies. They take agent information (listings) for the purpose of selling ads and leads to agents. Their purpose is not to help consumers find homes, it’s to sell ads or leads. Obviously that’s not the best business model for the consumers (or agents)?

Now Point2 Agent is getting all shaken up and people are talking about it. I don’t wish bad on them at all, in fact for many agents they have been the only a good solution, but I think this shake-up may a good thing in at least one way- maybe it will open some discussion about different and even better online solutions for agents.

Instead of creating well-designed websites that offer real value to the consumer, agents usually either get a cheap  template just to have a website or they pay a technology company (Trulia/Realtor.com/Zillow) for leads. I understand why- it’s a lot easier and much less expensive than it is to build a custom site. Custom websites can cost a lot. I spent well over six figures on BlueRoof.com, and it’s tough to pay that kind of money, especially if you have no experience converting online leads and have no idea what sort of return (if any) on your investment you’ll get. But help is on the way.

Point2 and other template sites serve their purpose, to be sure, but I think many agents who have a Point2 websites would like to have something better.

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In February there will something much better.

See it here:

http://blueroof.wordpress.com/2008/01/18/blueroof360-industry-best-realtor-websites-lead-and-client-management/

Fed Chops Half-Percent Off Rates/ Utah Job Market Still Strong

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Pick up a copy of the Tribune today and the whole front page talks about the .5% rate cut the fed just announced and how Utah’s job growth represents 5% of the entire country’s job growth. What does this mean for our local real estate market? Not much, actually. People with adjustable-rate mortgages will have some relief and people will get lower rates on home-equity loans and, but our job growth has been leading the nation for over a year, interest rates are a very low 6.25% right now (locally) and our local economy has been super strong for a while now. Local unemployment is still at all-time record lows for the state and people are moving into the area. But none of that really matters because many people need to sit and wait, wait and see, see and watch, watch and wait…

Our challenges are not interest rates- it’s inventory levels, lender restrictions, and the overall “Chicken Little” message the media is pumping out about the sky falling. Every factor is strong for our economy and real estate market, but these thiree things are causing people to stall. So it will take a few months of the media shutting up and things to calm down until people will be able to see how great a time this is to buy.

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About the news today;

Ben Bernanke, of the Federal Reserve, cut its benchmark interest rate by a half point, which caused the Dow to shoot up more than 300 points (it’s biggest one-day jump in over five years).

Last year 54,500 jobs were created in Utah, representing 5% of all jobs created in the country. Not bad for a state that only has 1% of the total US job force. When jobs are created and unemployment is 3-4% how do you fill all these jobs? People move into the area. And where do these people buy homes? Locally of course. So if people are moving into the area to fill tens of thousands of jobs that are being created, do we have a housing slump?

Just because every listing isn’t flying off the shelves the first few days they are on the market doesn’t mean everything is bad. It’s not supposed to take two days to sell a house. In “normal” healthy real estate markets it takes 30-90 days to sell good homes. What is our “average” time on market right now? It’s 36 days- not exactly sky-is-falling, but up ten days from the beginning of the year when things were crazy. 

Every day there is some other news about real estate in mass media and that itself is the problem. The market can’t be normal because it’s getting too much attention. It creates excitement- good and bad, and strong opinions from dads and sisters and uncles and friends who all “know” what they are talking about and all have different opinions they are telling buyers and sellers. “Offer 90% under market-value” or “things are going to get worse” or “Buy anything with at least 8 bedrooms”. This advice makes them feel important as though if not for their input these buyers would make the biggest mistakes of their lives and it’s good thing they get this valuable opinion information.

Those of us who know the market and watch indicators and trends and have been through market cycles know better. We know the stability inherent in housing (everybody needs a place to live) and the appreciation of real estate prices over a sustained period of time (all land in populated areas will go up in value). Real estate is an appreciating asset, and right now buyers can find some great homes with good prices in the Salt Lake area and with such a strong local economy and job growth, it’s a fantastic financial investment to buy right now- just make sure you have a good agent so you buy smart.