Inman News has a headline story today about Zip Realty launching a new mobile-friendly website. This is really important in today’s real estate world. Increasingly, consumers are using mobile devices (cell phones and tablets) to access the Internet and therefore listing information. Clearly, if your property website is not mobile optimized, the consumer using a phone for access is going to have a very funky, scroll-heavy experience.

Here’s the rub: Help-U-Sell has had a mobile optimized website for almost two years.

Really. I can’t say we were the first . . . but (as usual) we were in the first wave. Consumers who go to using a mobile device are automatically redirected to a mobile optimized site. They have the same powerful experience, but they have it on their phones and tablets.

What I can’t understand is why, when we innovate, when we are ahead of the curve, when we point the way (as we have done and have been doing for years), the national media, Inman, RIS, NAR ignore it. They will faun all over Re/Max when it does something we did last year . . . but recognize us when we do something remarkable? Never.

It underscores the fact that, in real estate, there is the status quo (populated by nearly a million REALTORS) and those who earn a living off them (the real estate media, the National Association of REALTORS, et al) and there is Help-U-Sell. We may be the best idea since sliced bread, we may have the best program for consumers, we may be technologically WAY ahead of the status quo, but as long as THEY are supporting the media, our story will never be told.

The only thing we can do is to succeed, as we always have done. We build and grow, build and grow. Ultimately, the contest between the status quo and Help-U-Sell will be decided by consumers. The more of them we serve (and the better we serve them), the more the scales will tip in our favor. And someday . . . someday . . . someday most consumers will be having a quality set fee real estate experience, wondering why it was ever done any other way!

Miscellaney: Facebook Deflation, Google Glasses and the Market Segment Specialist

Today’s Help-U-Sell Power Hour was really good. It was one Wednesday I didn’t come in with all kinds of stuff to share and instead, let the group take the call where they wanted it to go.  Seems there’s a lesson in that for me: shut up!

In talking about recruiting, the concept of the Market Segment Specialist came up.  It’s an idea that hatched on our Wednesday call several months ago.  Maurine Grisso was talking about a 55+ community she’d like to break into and said she wished she could find an agent who didn’t want to work full time, who lived in that neighborhood, to be the face of her Help-U-Sell business there.  Brainstorming resulted in a job description and title.  You can read more about this HERE, and HERE.

In my daily scan of relevant tech info, I learned that Facebook is getting ready to announce a new twist on advertising.  The new ads will be larger and will offer options for more specific targeting.  The rumor is you’ll be able to advertise to the ‘Friends’ of people who ‘Like’ a particular business.   I learned about this right after I saw a graph from Chis Smith, Chief Evangelist (!) at Inman, documenting a decline in the impact of Business Pages on Facebook. In a 30 day period, ‘Likes’ of business pages are down 15%, Comments are down 19.9% and Impressions are down 24%.   It could be that we’ve hit a saturation point with Facebook marketing and are starting to turn off from it, much as we did from Groupons not too long ago.  Groupons came out of the box like a shotgun blast, but after awhile people got tired of offers (sometimes not so good) in their email and began to turn off.  In the case of Facebook, I see an opportunity to re-examine how we use this communication tool in our businesses.  In other words:  let’s get creative once again in how we use Social Media.

Then, purely for fun, I saw a piece about the glasses Google, working in conjunction with Oakley, is likely to release later this year.  You wear them, just as you would any pair of shades, but a transparent web browser appears on the lens, enabling you to surf the web while walking around.  Using Google Maps while making your way through a foreign city would be interesting, as would using Google Goggles to identify landmarks along the way. I’m not sure whether this will be immensely silly and irrelevant or very cool.  I mean:  it seems we’re already doing that with our Smart Phones;  why would we switch?  And are we inching ever closer to having our technology actually implanted into our bodies??  If so, nerd that I am, I can’t wait!

Finally, remember, it’s the 22nd of February.  There are just 7 days left in the month (it’s leap year).  That means there are just 7 days left in the Help-U-Sell Winter Warm-Up Contest.  If you want to put on a full court press here in the closing week of the event, do so by focusing on  LISTINGS.  Get as many as possible because new listings carry the greatest weight in contest results.  What do you think?  Could you take one new listing evey day for the next seven days?  What if your State was going to take away your real estate license if you didin’t?  Could you do it then?  Uh-Huh, I thought you could.  So I think you now have your assignment:  7 new listings in 7 days.  That’s 35 additional points in the contest, which could be enough to boost you into one of the money positions!  Good Luck!

The Final Word On Syndication (Mine)

Check out this letter from a consumer on Inman today.  It somehow reminded me of something:

There is a difference between advertising and marketing.

Advertising is promotion without a plan, with no clear or realistic purpose, with little or no measurement of results.  Advertising is what most REALTORS do.  They promise the seller this advertising and that advertising, pretending all the while (wink, wink) that somehow the advertising is going to sell the house.

Help-U-Sell is a marketing company.  We create a powerful marketing plan with a crystal clear purpose:  to generate leads.  Leads, properly handled, sell houses.*

We syndicate our listings out to Trulia, Zillow and other aggregators because it’s good marketing.  It generates leads.  It doesn’t matter how the aggregators came into existence or how stupid we all were to let it happen. Since we are a marketing company, we go where the leads are, and today, they are on Zillow.

That’s it.
*(Not every listing we take is a good lead generator.  That doesn’t mean that the house is a bad house.  It just means that other houses in our inventory are better lead generators.  So, part of being a marketing company is carefully selecting the properties that generate the largest number of leads.  Next time you find yourself promising a seller advertising, watch out:  you’re dangerously close to falling into the traditional REALTOR trap.)

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