No matter how hard anyone tries to convince themselves, the same people who look at their computer screens or smart phones today are the same people who would have spent that same time watching TV or listening to the radio, a few years back. They react the same way and internalize information the same way.
So the base a brand is targeting today is pretty much the same it used to target ten years ago. Except the channels for delivering the message have evolved.
Building a solid brand has always required the application of fundamental building blocks. Thinking, strategies and activities that have stood the test of time and remain central to this day.
The challenges of building a powerful brand like Coca Cola, BMW and other mega brands include the relative shortage of marketing professionals with the background and experience that can only be cultivated around the offices and boardroom tables of marketing giants like these and the multi-national advertising agencies that service them.
Knowledge imparted throughout these organizations represents many, many decades of experience, trial, error and learning. You just don’t weave your way around this kind of experience coming out of university with a marketing degree. Or a diploma that may be taught by individuals who do not have the depth of a proven brand builder who spent decades building mega brands around the world.
Today’s PPC (Pay Per Click) driven thinking, combined with widespread lack of deep marketing experience, compounded by an instant gratification generation and mentality are making it extremely hard to build true brands and brand equity.
PPL (Pay Per Lead) has now gained serious traction too. A click through is no longer enough as a measure of campaign ROI. Marketers are calculating and evaluating an advertising medium based on cost per lead, or even conversion. If I don’t sell this many tools, then your medium doesn’t work!
The worst part is that as marketers we tend to forget that the concepts we create and the ideas we generate are critical to advertising and marketing results. Click throughs, lead capture and conversion.
At ListedBy.com, a growing online real estate auctions marketplace, we constantly remind ourselves of these basic fundamentals as we work to build the next mega real estate venue on the Web.
A new age marketer, reporting to a superior who relies on the young professional’s ‘knowledge’ of new Web technologies and trends, may find it easy to default to blaming the advertising medium or channel, before they look internally at their own work. Like their landing pages, lead capture incentives or their lead incubation and conversion systems.
This spells trouble for the brand and the organization over the long haul.
Unless we put a stop to promotion driven PPC / PPL advertising and focus on messages that build brands, we will continue to drive our brands and sales primarily based on price and events. That is a recipe for failure. And often, disaster.
Price and promotion driven marketing is the antithesis to building a brand that stands for value – and the test of time.
Imagine that you have a Bentley you want to sell. The car has been parked for a year, kid stuff on the back seat. Cleats, some dirt, coloring pens and paper, and fast food wrappings. In the front, some used up tissue paper still sits in the console area, the sun glasses nearby and the phone charger dangles. Before you advertise it online, you walk into your garage with a your iPhone, and in the shade of the walls, the car having gathered decent amounts of dust and mud from the last few rides she had been on, you take a couple of photos. One of the inside, the other of the outside.
Back at your computer you upload that photograph and make your posting on your preferred sites.
Now help me understand how you’d expect a buyer to get excited about your car, with all this negligence put in to showing it off? If the concern is not the condition of the car, it is the upkeep of the car. That is if any of the images look clear enough, to begin with. Remember lighting was dim at best when you walked in.
Next to your car posting there are another 3 Bentleys, all sparkling clean, enticing. Each comes with 25 shiny photos of a polished, well cared gem, interior even cleaner. The prospective buyers get this uplifting feeling just flipping through the photos, zooming in to view things in detail, enabled through the well lit, high resolution shots. A video of the vehicle is also set up, to make things even more appealing. The buyers then get set to make a call to inquire further or come down for a test drive.
Meanwhile you sit for days or months wondering why your car isn’t selling. And, if you get the adhoc call, you get frustrated with wholesale agents only calling and trying to low ball you.
Well you answer that one yourself. This morning right on ListedBy I came across a 1.2 million dollar asset listing, with a single photo of the entire project, taken off of a another photo print sitting on the kitchen counter. You could easily tell, because part of the counter was showing in the posted image.
The description of the project was weak at best, yet the seller’s agent expects people to hound them with offers.
This is not the only listing on a real estate website with a single, bad photo, and worse descriptions and details. You see them all over the place on the Web.
Folks, this complacency simply does not work in the world of sales, never mind one that involved assets worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars and where the competition is, at best, fierce. Even if you’re marketing REO Auctions or public real estate auctions, marketing an asset adequately is the difference between selling it or not, the ultimate asset value, and your commissions.
We have posted research about the importance of photos several times in this Forum and on the ListedBy Blog. It’s a no brainer. Why I won’t link to these articles to make it easy for some, is for good reason.
For those feeling guilty right now, it’s time to get that camera out, and do your work like a professional. Things will change faster than you think. The effort will always prove to be worthwhile.
In fact right now, I feel a smidgen embarrassed to release an article such as this one. But it just feels like all else has failed and it’s time to tell it like it is. The actions, and non actions of every agent affect not only their sales and business, but the reputation of our industry. Everyone must pull their weight to move us forward. Professional representation is a mandatory step.
We’re quite excited to release the ListedBy Service Provider star and feedback ratings system. To those who excel in their profession, such systems put in the hands of the consumer is a welcome event and a new path to more business.
For those who do not desire such systems, it’s a path to challenging and boosting current practices.
As an industry as a whole, such systems will bring new levels of transparency that can only help further enhance public perception and professionalism.
Here is the full announcement issued to the press earlier today, for our readers’ convenience:
ListedBy Launches Real Estate Service Provider and Agent Ratings
ListedBy (www.ListedBy.com), the first free online real estate marketplace and social network with live bidding public real estate auctions and ‘Buy Now/Best Offer’ functionality now enables members to publish and share feedback, recommendations and rate service providers listed on ListedBy.com, in real time.
The system reflects ListedBy’s goal to provide its members with everything they need to be successful in real estate both before, and after the transaction. Registered users on ListedBy.com can use the site’s Service Providers area to research services and related companies by state, and now rate providers including real estate brokers and agents using a five star rating system.
Users can also offer detailed feedback and recommendations on the same page, and share their feedback through email and social media with a single click, including on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and many others.
“From free access to rental and for sale property data, REO auctions and traditional listings, to clearly identifying the true listing agent and their contact information, to publicly displaying bids, bid history and bidders, to now agent and real estate related service provider ratings and feedback, ListedBy continues to move towards accelerating the real estate process through transparency and better access to information,” said Stephan Piscano, CEO and Founder, ListedBy.
“The time currently wasted at any stage of real estate buying and selling is unacceptable, as is the level of transparency on many real estate auction and traditional property portals, especially in this day and age. Everything that we do at ListedBy is designed to move the industry towards a higher level of efficiency,” added Piscano.
Concluded Piscano: “People who get exceptional service are always happy to spread the word. We’re introducing tools that make it easy for ListedBy members to share their experience and opinion, which benefits their service provider and works to drive higher levels of service in the industry.”
Service Provider pages on ListedBy have also been upgraded as virtual miniature Web sites, to further enhance service provider exposure and branding to ListedBy’s growing audience.
ListedBy launched its Service Providers module in January. The self-managed, self-populated free directory is designed to give ListedBy.com users convenient access to information on local real estate related services across the United States.
Traffic on ListedBy.com is expected to surpass 60,000 unique visitors for March 2013, with visitors spending an average of over five minutes on the site.
You eat an elephant one bite at a time.
Often, having a clear vision and the courage to start working towards an opportunity is what stands between man and his or her ultimate goal. With a little bit of study and appetite for some risk, the goal may in fact be closer than one might think.
The first order of business is to spot the opportunity. The next order of business is to remove anyone from sight who’s job seems to discourage us from moving forward. This is frequently the reason why most people freeze. In his famous The Law of Success in 16 Lessons book, the success bible, Napoleon Hill specifically discusses how you must keep your chief aim shielded from others who are likely to challenge or resist it. Even your spouse. Take this as law in achieving the success that you want, even though it is contrary to all the modern guru teachings that you must publish your goals far and wide so you may be more committed to achieving them.
In real estate, an opportunity of a lifetime came to those who saw a buying window when everyone ran the other way in 2008, 2009 and even up until last year. Those who made the move and acquired as much property as they could, boarded or not, with spouse approval or not, are on a different plane now. We all know where these investments stand today. Up some 20-25 percent in the past year alone, in many states and cities across the US. They hopped on the Web and onto online auction sites to grab REO auctions, government real estate auctions, residential real estate auctions, commercial real estate auctions, you name it. Some flipped them right away while others rehabbed and held the assets for rental income with high annual cash on cash returns unlike we’ve seen for decades.
The biggest complaint circling the sector today is lack of inventory, especially distressed assets. Whether that’s in Detroit, Las Vegas or any other market.
The next time I come across a hot deal in Detroit or otherwise, boarded or not, shabby or not, I’m jumping on it. That’s just what I did earlier today, when opportunity presented itself. I bid on five residential properties in Detroit on ListedBy.com, going for just tens or mere hundreds of dollars to anyone willing to take on just a few thousand dollars of back dues taxes. A great deal if you ask me. At worst, the land will always be there for me or my kids to farm someday. Each will have their profiting strategy. Some will resell the assets immediately for a bit of profit, taxes still unpaid. Others will hold till values increase, then sell at that time, still passing due taxes to the next investor. Yet others might pay due taxes in order to obtain title insurance, rehab the properties and rent them for regular cash flow. That is, if the neighborhood and overall conditions are adequate, an insurance provider is willing to provide the service in the area, and the risk of another round of vandalism of the property has been well considered. Risks are out there and professional advice and due diligence on any investment is always necessary.
But first I must win those bids. Some astute investors seem to have spotted the same properties. Until then, I’ll keep scouting the site for more. Here great deals still do come by.
I also like it here not just because of my obvious bias towards ListedBy, but because I also don’t need to pay registration and technology fees like on most other auction sites. Nor do I have to contend with buyer premiums like most everywhere else. Here it’s all free. So each bite I take at my goal, goes further. In English? More dollars in my pocket to go towards buying more assets (with or without spousal approval), instead of handing them to the auctioneer.
There you have it. That’s one of my paths. I’m pulling ahead in the game of real estate just one small bite at a time, until the elephant is in the bag.
What is mind boggling is that we as an industry have struggled for years trying to figure how to move distressed inventory. Mind boggling because we have consistently hid the data behind cumbersome registration pages and access fees, and charged huge buyer premiums at auctions. To think that these are all strategies designed to move inventory is somewhat hard to believe. Open access rather, should be the path.
To top it all, many consumer portals and sites have made it tough for buyers to connect with listing agents or sellers, by giving preferred placement to their own internal agents next to the listing, if that’s their business model. Others featured and continue to feature alternative agents based on a paid advertising model, in the process keeping the true representing agent who knows the seller and the property best, and can answer questions more swiftly and accurately, at bay and harder to reach.
Such and other practices have either delayed or outright derailed potential transactions, and to this day continue to hinder wider, more efficient buyer participation so the assimilation of inventory may proceed at a more healthy pace.
We’re excited to announce that we have unlocked access to all listings on ListedBy, specifically because giving real estate buyers and sellers immediate and open access to listings and to each others’ contact information is core to ListedBy’s vision for the site and the industry as a whole. We see this as becoming the norm for all real estate property portals and real estate auction companies.
As always, we appreciate our users’ feedback and suggestions. Giving everyone instant access to all listings on ListedBy.com once again is the results of your valued input. Now anyone can research MLS listings across the country, residential and commercial. The same goes for all distressed properties including REO auctions, government real estate auctions, residential real estate auctions, commercial real estate auctions and all other public real estate auctions and Buy Now/Best Offer listings that are active on ListedBy.com.