Blogging is Forever: Branding vs. Lead Generation

I believe in zeitgeist.  Things seem to happen in groups, where one conversation is followed by another on a similar vein.

Last night, I have a great conversation with Stacey Harmon about a presentation she’s giving to realtors on the value of social media for real estate.  We explore the difference between branding and lead generation, based on this post of mine on branding and social media that Stacey found interesting.

Then today, I see this epic video blog by David Gibbons of Zillow — a response to this post by Courtney Cooper — on the topic of whether “Blogging is Dead”.  The video itself is below:

The gist of David’s video — which, sadly has no transcript and no bite-sized snippets I can post — is as follows:

  • It isn’t enough to have a blog in 2009; you need to have a remarkable blog.
  • Blogs require customers come to you in order for it to be useful as a marketing vehicle.
  • Are home buyers and home sellers spending their online time on your blog?  If not, rethink.
  • Most realtors aren’t great writers.
  • The status-sphere, specifically twitter, is more important for conversation.  Photos, videos, and status updates on Facebook are becoming more effective.
  • David’s noticed that starting around February of 2009, conversations on Twitter and Facebook started to exceed conversations via blog.
  • Think way beyond blogs; look to other channels elsewhere on the Internet for people with real estate problems to solve.

There’s actually a lot more so I urge you to watch the whole thing.

David is a smart guy and he knows the Internet and social media marketing, so when he declares blogs to be 2008, and the “statussphere” to be more important to online marketing and conversation, it’s something to take seriously.  I happen to think he’s right in many respects, but due to a critical confusion, taking David’s advice at face value could be a bad thing.  The key is to understand the difference between branding and lead generation in your marketing efforts.

Marketing Is Not A Unified Whole

The trouble begins because David lumps all of marketing into a single “thing” calling it online marketing efforts.  Marketing itself doesn’t work that way.  Within that single term “Marketing” lies a whole range of activities with rather different goals and methods.  The “4 P’s” of marketing — Product, Price, Promotion, and Place — are separate concepts, and even after that you still have brand management, public relations & communications, event marketing, direct sales, and so on.

The key confusion in the case here is between branding and lead generation — two very important marketing activities, which are connected and yet separate, and somewhat in conflict.  This was what Stacey Harmon and I were discussing last night on the phone.

Branding vs. Lead Generation

At issue in Stacey and my discussion was whether social media really was the ideal vehicle for lead gen.  She didn’t think it was, because of the nature of social media, and I tended to agree.  Where we got to was that so-called “Web 1.0″ efforts — such as the traditional IDX-search enabled broker/agent websites and email marketing — were better for lead gen, while “Web 2.0″ or social media efforts worked better for branding.  At direct issue is timing and where the customer’s mental state is at a given time.

Let’s say Stacey parks her car at the airport to go to a conference, and it gets hit by a freak meteor and is destroyed.  She now needs to buy a car.  She’s going to look at one of three brands: BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Lexus.  She’ll get online, go to a site like Edmunds.com, and start researching various models of BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus.  Narrowing her choices down by criteria like price, features, appearance, etc., she’ll locate a few dealers in her area, go in for a test drive, ultimately select a new vehicle, and drive away a happy customer.

Now, my point to Stacey was that she had been marketed to before she even conceived of the need for a new car.  All those expensive TV commercials showing luxury automobiles cutting through the snow in Bavaria and so on, all those beautiful billboard ads adorning the streets of Newport Beach, all those expensive photo shoots of Mercedes cars in exotic locales, all of these things combined to put into Stacey’s mind that these three brands were desirable (for whatever personal motivation/appeal).

Once she had the need, and was in the market for a new car, then sites like Edmunds (a car-version of a real estate search site), direct mail pieces from the local dealership, and so on gave Stacey the information she needed to make the decision.

In other words, branding works before the consumer is in the market, whereas lead generation works once the consumer enters the market.

The key for Web 1.0 — the search websites, the “official” agent website, and the like — is to be present when the consumer is looking for real estate.  The key for social media is to be present prior to when the consumer is looking for real estate.

Branding and Real Estate Services

A car company like BMW can, should, and must spend money on glitzy commercials, magazine ads, and the like.  It is selling a product, after all.  A service provider, however, is only selling his time and expertise.  A gorgeous photo shoot of a realtor in a power suit doesn’t actually say very much about his knowledge, experience, capabilities, or level of service.  The branding challenge is how to establish those intangibles.  There are two ways, broadly speaking.

Meaningful Service Brand

Meaningful Service Brand

First, a service provider can brand himself by his clients.  People assume that a Fortune 500 company isn’t going to hire any dumbass off the street, so a company like McKinsey that works for top corporations is assumed to have the best and brightest.  This is similar to having a degree from a top college.  People just assume that a Harvard grad isn’t a moron because of the admissions criteria, and Harvard’s own brand.  (That this assumption is often wrong when it comes to Harvard is a different story, of course. :) )

Second, a service provider can brand himself by sharing his knowledge, expertise, and smarts.  Even the McKinseys of the world do just this.  McKinsey, in fact, has a publishing operation that rivals most university presses.  Top law firms are constantly putting out articles, going to conferences, and working on cases that don’t pay, but establish the expertise of the lawyers.

So how can a real estate professional brand himself?  The first path, of branding himself by clients, is often unavailable at least on the residential side.  It isn’t clear that I should hire Agent Jones because Mr. Smith up the street is such a wise selector of realtors.  Mr. Smith himself is only in the market once every seven years, like I am.  Does Mr. Smith put every realtor through seven rounds of interviews and screening?  Not likely.

The only way, then, is to share knowledge, expertise, and smarts.  And the only way to do this online is blogging.

Blogging vs. the Statussphere

Now, “blogging” doesn’t necessarily mean firing up your WordPress.  Putting up a Note on Facebook is, frankly, a blog.  Putting up a video of yourself is a blog.  The narrow definition of “blog” — a “web log” with entries in reverse chronological order, etc. — is no longer truly operative.  In my mind, a blog today really means substantial online content.

This “blogging” can be distinguished from the statussphere of Twitter, Facebook status updates, and the like.  Courtney Cooper, in her response to David, quotes Brian Clark on Copyblogger: “But the story remains the same: people who mainly want to socialize, share links, and post pictures of their cat should be using social networks instead of blogging, and that’s exactly what’s happening.”

The statussphere is social networking.  There is precious little actual content there.  Any real content on the statussphere is a link back to a blog, or some other content of actual substance.  Calling Twitter “microblogging” is nice, but it doesn’t change the fact that 140 characters is not enough to carry on a substantial display of knowledge or expertise.

As Courtney points out, one should use the social networks to promote and share one’s actual content.  But don’t confuse social networking with content creation.

David’s mistake is understandable, when he says that since February the statussphere has been more important for conversations in his role as Zillow’s representative.  What he’s forgetting is that behind his social network updates stands Zillow — one of the most important real estate websites in the world today.  The amount of content being pushed out by Zillow — both the automated data and the blogposts put up by the faithful minions there — is staggering.  David isn’t trying to brand himself or his company as an authority; he’s just trying to share and promote the existing authority that Zillow has established.

That’s a far cry from your average realtor who doesn’t have a world-class content-producing web operations behind her.

Tie me up in knots!

Tie me up in knots!

Tying Things Together

Let’s bring things full circle.  Remember the branding vs. lead-generation differentiation above?  Social networks can be used for some limited amount of lead gen work — especially if you, the realtor, are answering questions that customers put up on social networks.

But in order for such answers to have any authority, any weight, you have to have some sort of content to establish your brand as an expert.  A bunch of Facebook status updates isn’t going to do it.  Sorry.

Reason is that branding operates prior to entrance into the market.  A social media strategy, executed well, should result in people who have no intention of buying or selling a house to know that you exist, that you are an expert in the area of real estate, and that should they ever need real estate services, your name/company/image/whatever should be one of the first to float into awareness.  This simply cannot happen without some sort of content.

David’s “people with real estate problems to solve” are already in the market.  Social media is now of limited utility in reaching them.  Go with time-proven lead generation methods: a great search website, a solid email campaign, and even outbound telephone calls, local seminars, and the like.

Combining the two is truly powerful.  A consumer is in the market, has never thought about real estate before, and goes on Twitter to ask something like, “So what’s the deal with this $8,000 tax credit?”  Your answer can be, “Here’s a link to my blogpost about the $8,000 tax credit, what it means, and how you can compute its effects on the decision: www.XYZ.com.”  Or a consumer is searching for listings in your area, and lands on your search website.  You get them to register and sign up for listing updates through good UI and conversion practices.  Well, don’t just send them listings — send them your weekly video blogpost about the state of the market.  Email them your blogposts, if they’re worth a damn.

In all these efforts, the blog in whatever form is the base.  Without it, online branding is impossible.  And without brand, you are just one of an undifferentiated mass of realtors claiming this and that without any proof.  Oh, you’ll still have a brand in your local market simply based on your performance as a realtor; your customers will know how good or bad you are, and tell other people.  But that happens whether you have a website or not.

Caveats

In closing, a few caveats and warnings and things you oughta know.

First, branding is a long-term marketing play.  The Mercedes brand was not built overnight.  You are unlikely to see an immediate jump in traffic, in business, or dollars because of all your blogging and social networking and the like.  But over the long-haul, the differentiation you can establish with your knowledge and expertise is perhaps the single most valuable asset you can have.

Second, blog to your strengths, not to your weakness.  If you’re a bad writer, please don’t write a blog.  If you have a face for radio, don’t do a video blog.  Use your strengths, not your weaknesses, when branding yourself — whether offline or online.

Third, understand that branding and lead generation are somewhat in conflict.  Mercedes Benz does not send out mass mailings offering 25% off the new S-Class; it doesn’t need to.  Whereas Bob’s Discount Furniture doesn’t particularly care what its “brand image” is — they just want to drive as many shoppers into their store as possible.  Doing lead generation while being cognizant of your overall brand promise is one of the trickier things in marketing, so think and think again as you engage in it.

Blogging isn’t 2008; it isn’t dead.  Twitter, Facebook, whatever comes next will not replace the need for content to showcase knowledge and expertise.

Blogging is forever.

-rsh

  • http://www.yourcoach.com/ Tom Ferry

    Rob, Wow …lots of good thoughts and questions here. Thank you for this!

    Tom

  • http://www.yourcoach.com Tom Ferry

    Rob, Wow …lots of good thoughts and questions here. Thank you for this!

    Tom

  • http://www.OCRealtress.com/ Carolynn Santaniello

    Rob,

    You are so awesome! Thank you for taking the time to write a content packed and engaging post. I love the way you distinguished between lead generation and branding in a concise action oriented way. So many blogs about similar topics are full of fluff and do not give away the “secrets.”

    Carolynn

  • http://www.OCRealtress.com Carolynn Santaniello

    Rob,

    You are so awesome! Thank you for taking the time to write a content packed and engaging post. I love the way you distinguished between lead generation and branding in a concise action oriented way. So many blogs about similar topics are full of fluff and do not give away the “secrets.”

    Carolynn

  • http://www.pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan

    A couple of points. First, blogging without marketing your blog is crazy. That’s the pure definition of insanity. If you’re not marketing your blog why are you doing it?

    Second, while the other options for getting your message out provide great opportunities to increasing your exposure to be sure; there’s an important reason to avoid just using the statusphere.

    The problem with relying on the statusphere a sole marketing vehicle is that it is entirely inefficient and does a terrible job of providing a record of your expertise. Try Twitter search. Guess what? Twitter search is terrible for aggregating a body of work. It is severely limited in its usefulness period. You can’t go back more than a few days of tweets with any level of efficiency (to get to 4 days ago w/me you need to go back 14 pages click by click). A conversation on Facebook around a posted item gets buried scary-fast and leaves little opportunity for people outside of the conversation to collect value. A FriendFeed conversation is can’t be found after a few days.

    How is a person supposed to determine if you’re the person that’s right for them when they can’t easily piece together the value proposition you bring to the table? You don’t want to send them to your Twitter feed or to comments you’ve left on other blogs. A blog is a home base. Besides the fact that you actually own the site and can control the funding and services of it (which is no trivial matter) you can create a portfolio (or body) of work that demonstrates your expertise.

    Use the statusphere to bring people in and spread the word; but relying on these services alone is not a good idea in the least – the conversations are perishable, a blog is forever.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      Heh, agreed across the board. :)

      Although the definition of insanity, I think, is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That also applies to segments of our industry, heh.

      -rsh

      • http://www.pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan

        You’re definitely right regarding the insanity quote. Although given the opportunity I’m sure Mr. Einstein would elect to elaborate. :)

        Good point on other segments as well!

  • http://www.pmorganbrown.com Morgan

    A couple of points. First, blogging without marketing your blog is crazy. That’s the pure definition of insanity. If you’re not marketing your blog why are you doing it?

    Second, while the other options for getting your message out provide great opportunities to increasing your exposure to be sure; there’s an important reason to avoid just using the statusphere.

    The problem with relying on the statusphere a sole marketing vehicle is that it is entirely inefficient and does a terrible job of providing a record of your expertise. Try Twitter search. Guess what? Twitter search is terrible for aggregating a body of work. It is severely limited in its usefulness period. You can’t go back more than a few days of tweets with any level of efficiency (to get to 4 days ago w/me you need to go back 14 pages click by click). A conversation on Facebook around a posted item gets buried scary-fast and leaves little opportunity for people outside of the conversation to collect value. A FriendFeed conversation is can’t be found after a few days.

    How is a person supposed to determine if you’re the person that’s right for them when they can’t easily piece together the value proposition you bring to the table? You don’t want to send them to your Twitter feed or to comments you’ve left on other blogs. A blog is a home base. Besides the fact that you actually own the site and can control the funding and services of it (which is no trivial matter) you can create a portfolio (or body) of work that demonstrates your expertise.

    Use the statusphere to bring people in and spread the word; but relying on these services alone is not a good idea in the least – the conversations are perishable, a blog is forever.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      Heh, agreed across the board. :)

      Although the definition of insanity, I think, is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” That also applies to segments of our industry, heh.

      -rsh

      • http://www.pmorganbrown.com Morgan

        You’re definitely right regarding the insanity quote. Although given the opportunity I’m sure Mr. Einstein would elect to elaborate. :)

        Good point on other segments as well!

  • http://www.zillow.com/profile/AjayM/ Ajay Mehta

    Very thought-provoking read.

    I just started as a 16-year-old intern right across the hall from David, so I’ve been submerged in debates about the usefulness of blogging (at least a consistently-updated personal blog) for the past few days.

    Just to clarify, do you still support the basic idea that one should set up a single hub (whether it be a blog or something similar) on the web that is then linked back to by all the various social networks and such less-involved outlets?

    As I’ve been observing, someone like David has more of an ephemeral, diverse presence on the web. He doesn’t have a regular personal blog, and instead comments on blogs or posts things like this video. But it seems to work for him.

    As far as my young presence on the web, I still don’t know quite how to ground myself. I tweet but I haven’t yet started a blog, in the fear that the personal investment won’t pay off as much as taking more of a diverse approach.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      My view is that the blog (in whatever form) is one’s homebase on the web for branding. The “corporate website” is the homebase on the web for business development/lead generation. The two overlap quite a bit, especially for services companies, but that’s how I think of it.

      David can have an ephemeral diverse presence, because his “home base” is Zillow. But even in the instant case, without the ActiveRain blog on which he can post the video, David couldn’t have articulated his vision, his views, his knowledge.

      -rsh

  • http://www.zillow.com/profile/AjayM/ Ajay Mehta

    Very thought-provoking read.

    I just started as a 16-year-old intern right across the hall from David, so I’ve been submerged in debates about the usefulness of blogging (at least a consistently-updated personal blog) for the past few days.

    Just to clarify, do you still support the basic idea that one should set up a single hub (whether it be a blog or something similar) on the web that is then linked back to by all the various social networks and such less-involved outlets?

    As I’ve been observing, someone like David has more of an ephemeral, diverse presence on the web. He doesn’t have a regular personal blog, and instead comments on blogs or posts things like this video. But it seems to work for him.

    As far as my young presence on the web, I still don’t know quite how to ground myself. I tweet but I haven’t yet started a blog, in the fear that the personal investment won’t pay off as much as taking more of a diverse approach.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      My view is that the blog (in whatever form) is one’s homebase on the web for branding. The “corporate website” is the homebase on the web for business development/lead generation. The two overlap quite a bit, especially for services companies, but that’s how I think of it.

      David can have an ephemeral diverse presence, because his “home base” is Zillow. But even in the instant case, without the ActiveRain blog on which he can post the video, David couldn’t have articulated his vision, his views, his knowledge.

      -rsh

  • David Harris

    Rob,

    I am curious what you and your reader’s consider are good RE brands (corporate, broker, agent, vendor, etc)?

    David

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      On the brokerage side… maybe Redfin? No one else has a good brand, not even Sotheby’s, which would be the strongest “traditional” brand.

      For “vendors”… I think Altos Research, Zillow, and HomeGain have effective brands. I think Onboard Informatics had an effective brand, but that would be a bit too self-serving even for me, no? :) Trulia’s brand is a little bit odd, so I’m not 100% sure on them.

      -rsh

  • David Harris

    Rob,

    I am curious what you and your reader’s consider are good RE brands (corporate, broker, agent, vendor, etc)?

    David

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      On the brokerage side… maybe Redfin? No one else has a good brand, not even Sotheby’s, which would be the strongest “traditional” brand.

      For “vendors”… I think Altos Research, Zillow, and HomeGain have effective brands. I think Onboard Informatics had an effective brand, but that would be a bit too self-serving even for me, no? :) Trulia’s brand is a little bit odd, so I’m not 100% sure on them.

      -rsh

  • http://virtualresults.net/ Jim Marks

    How do such smart people get this SO WRONG?

    1)Web 1.0 sites, with IDX search, Market info etc. ARE better lead gen than a standalone, poorly executed blog, granted. But what value is any marketing piece if you print it, walk it outside and bury it in a hole in your backyard for no one to see.

    98% of all agents do not have the knowledge, time or money to create a 1.0 website that will ever see the Google light of day (Top Ten Ranking for a meaningful search term) So their site will never be seen, trafficked or clicked upon. Blog posts are viral, they can be promoted. They rank well. They drive long-tail traffic. They get better (on Google) with age.. THEY GET EYEBALLS.

    Rob, the main keywords for THIS blog are Real Estate and Technology… this site sits on page 126 and 214 respectively. Is this where your traffic is coming from? or is it perhaps that your blog posts get found via comments, long tail, viral ads, twitter, etc. Blogs Drive Traffic. Traffic is good.

    Enough about Blogs. How about the Statusphere…

    Most Realtors number one source of biz is their circle of influence. In days past and present, Realtors would go to mixers, parties, community events,etc. and MEET PEOPLE. Create conversation, create RELATIONSHIPS..This is the most effective time a Realtor could have (past tense) invested…Is this Branding? Hell no. THIS IS MARKETING. This is Lead Gen.

    Twiiter, Facebook, etc. however is social marketing with a turbo charger. You see, unlike attending the meetings of old, this new media, They CREATE TRAFFIC…

    Two…Two treats in one. Relationship Building AND Traffic Generation.

    The $6,999,345 question here is not whether blogging and social media is lead gen, it is. The question is “How come such smart people don’t know it?” and the answer? One Word. ANALYTICS.

    Realtors (and their web providers)don’t complete the circle of their efforts. Most Bloggers dont create sites that convert and they simply dont analyse their efforts.

    Traffic without conversion is worthless traffic.

    If enough Realtors, (or Realtor consultants, etc) setup proper analytics and invested the time to study them and use the data to determine where the traffic SEGMENTS were coming from, at what rate it converts, and which traffic and efforts created the best ROI?

    This conversation would not even exist.

    Social Media traffic, Blog Posts, Twitter and Facebook directs convert at a higher rate than poorly developed SERP traffic. Fact. And they build your circle of influence at the same time. They gain subscriptions, which CONVERT even higher and drive friend traffic.

    Rob, Numbers don’t lie. A properly built, well ran Web 2.0 website, will capture and convert traffic to leads at a brisk rate. LEAD GEN. A poorly written, and non-analyzed site may not. Social Media efforts DRIVE this traffic to the website, for conversion.

    If I continue to fill a hole-laden bucket with water, and the water runs out the bottom, is it fair for me to state “buckets dont hold water?” or simply realize that THIS bucket, is poorly constructed.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      First of all, you need to deal with the research showing that only about 5% of traffic to a real estate website originates from a search engine. See, e.g., http://www.slideshare.net/victorlund/broker-website-effectiveness. When the bulk of searches on Google that lead to a broker’s website is the name of the brokerage itself, I’m not convinced that SEO is the magic bullet for realtors.

      Second, if a realtor’s lead-gen efforts are limited to her own agent website, she’s got problems. For lead-gen, not taking advantage of everything out there from aggregators like Trulia, Homegain, Zillow, Realtor.com, as well as email lists, and offline initiatives like cold calling, open houses, cocktail parties, and the like is probably less than optimal.

      Third, I have no idea how people find this blog. :) But I do know I didn’t start it, nor do I keep it up, in order to do lead generation. In all of the time that I’ve been writing this blog, I think I can count all of the “leads” on one hand. It has been, however, an amazing tool for branding myself in a certain way.

      Fourth, branding –> business. That’s the reason to do branding at all. BMW has people walking into dealerships every day based on the power of its brand. The Apple store is filled with shoppers every day of the week, and I’m positive I have never been “leadgenned” on as a consumers. Of course realtors go to cocktail parties, community events, etc. — but do they walk in with a stack of their latest listing flyer? I don’t think so. They build relationships — of course they do. That’s the essence of branding. They don’t go up to every single guest at a Bar Mitzvah passing out cards, going, “I’m a realtor; call me if you’re looking for a house.” At least, I hope they don’t.

      Fifth, Twitter/Facebook create traffic… to what? If you don’t have a blog or even a 1.0 website, what do these social networking tools create traffic TO? Other Twitter updates?

      Sixth, traffic without conversion is useless traffic… if your goal is lead-gen, and that’s how you measure effectiveness. But as I said, if your goal is branding, then you don’t measure effectiveness by “how many dollars from those clicks?” You measure that by brand awareness studies, longterm effect on the business, and brand value metrics.

      Seventh, effective branding should lead to higher conversion. Again, that’s the whole point of branding. If a shopper is looking for orange juice, the branding that Tropicana has spent billions on should mean that more of them pick Tropicana OJ over store-brand OJ. But no one thinks that Tropicana ads on TV is doing lead-generation. When Tropicana collaborates with the local grocery chain to do a mailing to residents with a $1.00 off coupon, that’s lead generation, and that does get measured on how many coupons were turned in.

      Eighth, since you say numbers don’t lie, do please share them with us. :) Specifically, we need to compare raw traffic and conversion rates using non-branded keywords from Google to a “Web 2.0″ site to the same to Realtor.com or ColdwellBanker.com or any other clearly Web 1.0 website.

      I think you make great points, Jim, but once again, I don’t think you’re distinguishing branding vs. lead-generation sufficiently. Rather, you’re mashing the two together, and flipping everything to Google –> Traffic Capture –> Lead Capture –> Dollars which is fine… but not how you measure brand effectiveness. The sign of it, to me, is that you’re starting with Google, which implies that the customer is actively searching for real estate. Which implies that the customer is already “in the market”.

      Effective branding, to me, happens before the customer is in the market. The same way that I know BMW and Lexus, and what those brands stand for, and I’m not in the market for a car. For service businesses, that can only happen through sharing knowledge, expertise, etc. via content, aka, a Blog.

      -rsh

      • http://www.miamism.com/ ines

        isn’t the answer to this discussion BALANCE??? if we balance our lead generation efforts with that of our branding efforts and find a way to efficiently marry these to produce more business – shouldn’t that be everyone’s goal?

  • http://virtualresults.net Jim Marks

    How do such smart people get this SO WRONG?

    1)Web 1.0 sites, with IDX search, Market info etc. ARE better lead gen than a standalone, poorly executed blog, granted. But what value is any marketing piece if you print it, walk it outside and bury it in a hole in your backyard for no one to see.

    98% of all agents do not have the knowledge, time or money to create a 1.0 website that will ever see the Google light of day (Top Ten Ranking for a meaningful search term) So their site will never be seen, trafficked or clicked upon. Blog posts are viral, they can be promoted. They rank well. They drive long-tail traffic. They get better (on Google) with age.. THEY GET EYEBALLS.

    Rob, the main keywords for THIS blog are Real Estate and Technology… this site sits on page 126 and 214 respectively. Is this where your traffic is coming from? or is it perhaps that your blog posts get found via comments, long tail, viral ads, twitter, etc. Blogs Drive Traffic. Traffic is good.

    Enough about Blogs. How about the Statusphere…

    Most Realtors number one source of biz is their circle of influence. In days past and present, Realtors would go to mixers, parties, community events,etc. and MEET PEOPLE. Create conversation, create RELATIONSHIPS..This is the most effective time a Realtor could have (past tense) invested…Is this Branding? Hell no. THIS IS MARKETING. This is Lead Gen.

    Twiiter, Facebook, etc. however is social marketing with a turbo charger. You see, unlike attending the meetings of old, this new media, They CREATE TRAFFIC…

    Two…Two treats in one. Relationship Building AND Traffic Generation.

    The $6,999,345 question here is not whether blogging and social media is lead gen, it is. The question is “How come such smart people don’t know it?” and the answer? One Word. ANALYTICS.

    Realtors (and their web providers)don’t complete the circle of their efforts. Most Bloggers dont create sites that convert and they simply dont analyse their efforts.

    Traffic without conversion is worthless traffic.

    If enough Realtors, (or Realtor consultants, etc) setup proper analytics and invested the time to study them and use the data to determine where the traffic SEGMENTS were coming from, at what rate it converts, and which traffic and efforts created the best ROI?

    This conversation would not even exist.

    Social Media traffic, Blog Posts, Twitter and Facebook directs convert at a higher rate than poorly developed SERP traffic. Fact. And they build your circle of influence at the same time. They gain subscriptions, which CONVERT even higher and drive friend traffic.

    Rob, Numbers don’t lie. A properly built, well ran Web 2.0 website, will capture and convert traffic to leads at a brisk rate. LEAD GEN. A poorly written, and non-analyzed site may not. Social Media efforts DRIVE this traffic to the website, for conversion.

    If I continue to fill a hole-laden bucket with water, and the water runs out the bottom, is it fair for me to state “buckets dont hold water?” or simply realize that THIS bucket, is poorly constructed.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      First of all, you need to deal with the research showing that only about 5% of traffic to a real estate website originates from a search engine. See, e.g., http://www.slideshare.net/victorlund/broker-website-effectiveness. When the bulk of searches on Google that lead to a broker’s website is the name of the brokerage itself, I’m not convinced that SEO is the magic bullet for realtors.

      Second, if a realtor’s lead-gen efforts are limited to her own agent website, she’s got problems. For lead-gen, not taking advantage of everything out there from aggregators like Trulia, Homegain, Zillow, Realtor.com, as well as email lists, and offline initiatives like cold calling, open houses, cocktail parties, and the like is probably less than optimal.

      Third, I have no idea how people find this blog. :) But I do know I didn’t start it, nor do I keep it up, in order to do lead generation. In all of the time that I’ve been writing this blog, I think I can count all of the “leads” on one hand. It has been, however, an amazing tool for branding myself in a certain way.

      Fourth, branding –> business. That’s the reason to do branding at all. BMW has people walking into dealerships every day based on the power of its brand. The Apple store is filled with shoppers every day of the week, and I’m positive I have never been “leadgenned” on as a consumers. Of course realtors go to cocktail parties, community events, etc. — but do they walk in with a stack of their latest listing flyer? I don’t think so. They build relationships — of course they do. That’s the essence of branding. They don’t go up to every single guest at a Bar Mitzvah passing out cards, going, “I’m a realtor; call me if you’re looking for a house.” At least, I hope they don’t.

      Fifth, Twitter/Facebook create traffic… to what? If you don’t have a blog or even a 1.0 website, what do these social networking tools create traffic TO? Other Twitter updates?

      Sixth, traffic without conversion is useless traffic… if your goal is lead-gen, and that’s how you measure effectiveness. But as I said, if your goal is branding, then you don’t measure effectiveness by “how many dollars from those clicks?” You measure that by brand awareness studies, longterm effect on the business, and brand value metrics.

      Seventh, effective branding should lead to higher conversion. Again, that’s the whole point of branding. If a shopper is looking for orange juice, the branding that Tropicana has spent billions on should mean that more of them pick Tropicana OJ over store-brand OJ. But no one thinks that Tropicana ads on TV is doing lead-generation. When Tropicana collaborates with the local grocery chain to do a mailing to residents with a $1.00 off coupon, that’s lead generation, and that does get measured on how many coupons were turned in.

      Eighth, since you say numbers don’t lie, do please share them with us. :) Specifically, we need to compare raw traffic and conversion rates using non-branded keywords from Google to a “Web 2.0″ site to the same to Realtor.com or ColdwellBanker.com or any other clearly Web 1.0 website.

      I think you make great points, Jim, but once again, I don’t think you’re distinguishing branding vs. lead-generation sufficiently. Rather, you’re mashing the two together, and flipping everything to Google –> Traffic Capture –> Lead Capture –> Dollars which is fine… but not how you measure brand effectiveness. The sign of it, to me, is that you’re starting with Google, which implies that the customer is actively searching for real estate. Which implies that the customer is already “in the market”.

      Effective branding, to me, happens before the customer is in the market. The same way that I know BMW and Lexus, and what those brands stand for, and I’m not in the market for a car. For service businesses, that can only happen through sharing knowledge, expertise, etc. via content, aka, a Blog.

      -rsh

      • http://www.miamism.com ines

        isn’t the answer to this discussion BALANCE??? if we balance our lead generation efforts with that of our branding efforts and find a way to efficiently marry these to produce more business – shouldn’t that be everyone’s goal?

  • http://www.miamism.com/ ines

    and the next step is…if you are able to analyze those conversions and can further capitalize on keywords that are getting you the best results with a highly focused site….the more power (wink wink)

  • http://www.miamism.com ines

    and the next step is…if you are able to analyze those conversions and can further capitalize on keywords that are getting you the best results with a highly focused site….the more power (wink wink)

  • http://www.mortgagesunzipped.com/ David Gibbons

    Nice work Rob; branding as a compliment to lead-gen is the EXACT issue at the heart of this discussion. We don’t actually disagree and as I said, your blog is your “home base” but bloggers HAVE TO now work harder to promote it. When I comment online, I always link back to one of Zillow’s blogs and I’m lucky to be a part of a team that are a lot better at attracting a great audience to our various blogs than I am.

    I will however challenge you though to give one aspect of this thesis some more thought … what you’ve described is actually “Lead Capture” which is only one approach to “Lead Gen.”

    As you know, many Lead Capture best practices are actually at odds with permission marketing. With Lead Capture as your blogging goal, you are resigning yourself to always rely on hard-sales tactics to close a prospect; drip marketing, mailings, calls etc. That totally works but I think that the pinnacle of soft sales is rather to try and get to the point where you’re not mixing these two approaches. If your social media brand marketing is really successful, closed leads will contact you – there is no lead conversion required. This may sound odd until you talk to people who are doing it well but you really don’t have to be good at lead capture to excel at lead generation anymore. And you really may not need a blog if it’s only purpose is to host your telephone number.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      Well, I think you’re right. I need to clarify things a bit more.

      I advocate the McKinsey approach to business development. Do a search for “McKinsey Way” in Google Books, and look for “Selling Without Selling”. This is the URL I have: http://books.google.com/books?id=UtNZZU6JLiQC&dq;=the+mckinsey+way&printsec;=frontcover&source;=bn&hl;=en&ei;=1bdTSu6MFo6eMfHVlO8I&sa;=X&oi;=book_result&ct;=result&resnum;=4

      The brief version is, McKinsey does not go cold calling on companies, asking if they got problems that need solving. They just make sure the companies know that McKinsey got solutions. The flipside of it is, who cares if you got a great mousetrap if no one knows that you got a great mousetrap? Even people who have mice won’t know to call you.

      I think that’s why I think blogging is so powerful. To your point, I think if you do a good enough job of branding yourself as a local expert, knowledgeable in all things real estate, the phone will ring (as it were) when the consumer realizes he has a need. But if you don’t blog, how will the consumer know that you’ve got the solution? Because you say so on your website?

      The short version, I suppose, is that if your blogging activities, combined with smart social media marketing of your blog/expertise/knowledge, combined with offline branding efforts like attending parties, lead to local people all knowing that you are THE PERSON for real estate, then you don’t have to do “leadgen” again.

      -rsh

  • http://www.mortgagesunzipped.com David Gibbons

    Nice work Rob; branding as a compliment to lead-gen is the EXACT issue at the heart of this discussion. We don’t actually disagree and as I said, your blog is your “home base” but bloggers HAVE TO now work harder to promote it. When I comment online, I always link back to one of Zillow’s blogs and I’m lucky to be a part of a team that are a lot better at attracting a great audience to our various blogs than I am.

    I will however challenge you though to give one aspect of this thesis some more thought … what you’ve described is actually “Lead Capture” which is only one approach to “Lead Gen.”

    As you know, many Lead Capture best practices are actually at odds with permission marketing. With Lead Capture as your blogging goal, you are resigning yourself to always rely on hard-sales tactics to close a prospect; drip marketing, mailings, calls etc. That totally works but I think that the pinnacle of soft sales is rather to try and get to the point where you’re not mixing these two approaches. If your social media brand marketing is really successful, closed leads will contact you – there is no lead conversion required. This may sound odd until you talk to people who are doing it well but you really don’t have to be good at lead capture to excel at lead generation anymore. And you really may not need a blog if it’s only purpose is to host your telephone number.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      Well, I think you’re right. I need to clarify things a bit more.

      I advocate the McKinsey approach to business development. Do a search for “McKinsey Way” in Google Books, and look for “Selling Without Selling”. This is the URL I have: http://books.google.com/books?id=UtNZZU6JLiQC&dq=the+mckinsey+way&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=1bdTSu6MFo6eMfHVlO8I&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4

      The brief version is, McKinsey does not go cold calling on companies, asking if they got problems that need solving. They just make sure the companies know that McKinsey got solutions. The flipside of it is, who cares if you got a great mousetrap if no one knows that you got a great mousetrap? Even people who have mice won’t know to call you.

      I think that’s why I think blogging is so powerful. To your point, I think if you do a good enough job of branding yourself as a local expert, knowledgeable in all things real estate, the phone will ring (as it were) when the consumer realizes he has a need. But if you don’t blog, how will the consumer know that you’ve got the solution? Because you say so on your website?

      The short version, I suppose, is that if your blogging activities, combined with smart social media marketing of your blog/expertise/knowledge, combined with offline branding efforts like attending parties, lead to local people all knowing that you are THE PERSON for real estate, then you don’t have to do “leadgen” again.

      -rsh

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/ Jay Thompson

    Jim makes a *great* point about analytics. I can count the number of agents on one hand (maybe two hands) that can tell me things like:

    Which single post on their blog gets the most visitors.
    Which type of post gets the most visitors.
    Which search terms send them any traffic.
    Which search terms send them local traffic.
    Why they shouldn’t care than some posts have a bounce rate of 100%.
    Why everyone and their brother wants on page 1 of Google for “Phoenix real estate” and I’d gladly trade my page 1 spot there for placement in searches like “Agritopia real estate”, “Power Ranch homes”, “val vista lakes realtor”, etc.

    Etc etc etc.

    I hear, all the time, “I’ll never get as much traffic as you get on Phoenix Real Estate Guy”.

    Aside from not being true, does it really matter?

    I have some “micro sites” that are extremely localized. They get 25 – 50 unique visitors a week (contrast that to TPREG that gets 1500+ a day).

    But you know what? Those micro sites generate emails and phones calls every single week. And not all that many less than TPREG. The conversion rates on those sites is ridiculous.

    How did I decide which neighborhoods to build-out micro sites for? By analyzing traffic patterns to neighborhood posts on TPREG. Those that do well get further developed. Those that don’t, don’t.

    (sorry to go a little off-topic to your post, but analytics (or lack of) always gets me going).

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    Jim makes a *great* point about analytics. I can count the number of agents on one hand (maybe two hands) that can tell me things like:

    Which single post on their blog gets the most visitors.
    Which type of post gets the most visitors.
    Which search terms send them any traffic.
    Which search terms send them local traffic.
    Why they shouldn’t care than some posts have a bounce rate of 100%.
    Why everyone and their brother wants on page 1 of Google for “Phoenix real estate” and I’d gladly trade my page 1 spot there for placement in searches like “Agritopia real estate”, “Power Ranch homes”, “val vista lakes realtor”, etc.

    Etc etc etc.

    I hear, all the time, “I’ll never get as much traffic as you get on Phoenix Real Estate Guy”.

    Aside from not being true, does it really matter?

    I have some “micro sites” that are extremely localized. They get 25 – 50 unique visitors a week (contrast that to TPREG that gets 1500+ a day).

    But you know what? Those micro sites generate emails and phones calls every single week. And not all that many less than TPREG. The conversion rates on those sites is ridiculous.

    How did I decide which neighborhoods to build-out micro sites for? By analyzing traffic patterns to neighborhood posts on TPREG. Those that do well get further developed. Those that don’t, don’t.

    (sorry to go a little off-topic to your post, but analytics (or lack of) always gets me going).

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  • http://virtualresults.net/ Jim Marks

    Rob, You know I love you man….but did you actually read my post?

    First of all, you need to deal with the research showing that only about 5% of traffic to a real estate website originates from a search engine.

    This is the type of data call that DRIVES ME CRAZY. Aggregate data is worth LESS than zero? Quoting this statistic is like saying “A piece of string is 11 inches” What string, whose string.. of course only 5% of traffic comes from Google.. cuz 99% of all RE websites get 0 traffic. Please show me Realtors sites that are getting hundreds of leads a month, and DONT rank well… I dare you.

    When the bulk of searches on Google that lead to a broker’s website is the name of the brokerage itself, I’m not convinced that SEO is the magic bullet for realtors.

    I never raised SEO, but IF the bulk is coming via the brokers name? Then by default the site is not SEO’d (or SEO’d properly)

    Second, if a realtor’s lead-gen efforts are limited to her own agent website, she’s got problems. For lead-gen, not taking advantage of everything out there from aggregators like Trulia, Homegain, Zillow, Realtor.com, as well as email lists, and offline initiatives like cold calling, open houses, cocktail parties, and the like is probably less than optimal.

    Granted. The conversation was about the effectiveness of SM, not whether it is ALL an agent should do…Doing only SM would be professional suicide.

    Fourth, branding –> business. That’s the reason to do branding at all. BMW has people walking into dealerships every day based on the power of its brand. The Apple store is filled with shoppers every day of the week, and I’m positive I have never been “leadgenned” on as a consumers. Of course realtors go to cocktail parties, community events, etc. — but do they walk in with a stack of their latest listing flyer? I don’t think so. They build relationships — of course they do. That’s the essence of branding. They don’t go up to every single guest at a Bar Mitzvah passing out cards, going, “I’m a realtor; call me if you’re looking for a house.” At least, I hope they don’t.

    Please explain Realtor Branding to me? See, I dont believe that a Realtor get to tell me who eh or she is? I will make that determination once I get to speak to them, or email with them. And how would they find me? Perhaps Social Media as part of their Lead Gen efforts… (LOL) I dont understand Realtor branding. I say “I want to buy a really cool car. SOmething well-built and Euro” A brand works here.. But what is a Realtor Brand? I want to hire a Realtor that is …? I dont think so. I think people hire Realtors they know and trust. Realtors they have a REALATIONSHIP with. Brokers have been telling agents to “brand themselves” of years? Please show me an agent who get mass biz because of their brand.

    Fifth, Twitter/Facebook create traffic… to what? If you don’t have a blog or even a 1.0 website, what do these social networking tools create traffic TO? Other Twitter updates?

    Now you are reaching! No marketing lives in a vacuum. Are you saying that because Twitter and Facebooks highest and best use is deriving traffic to a focal point to close, that THIS makes it not Marketing? Not lead gen? IF BMW drives people to their lots, does that mean their marketing isnt valid because without the lots they have nothing to drive to?

    Sixth, traffic without conversion is useless traffic… if your goal is lead-gen, and that’s how you measure effectiveness. But as I said, if your goal is branding, then you don’t measure effectiveness by “how many dollars from those clicks?” You measure that by brand awareness studies, longterm effect on the business, and brand value metrics.

    Please see above and show me a case of brand awareness studies, longterm effect on the business, and brand value metrics for a REALTOR? Again, I need someone to prove to me that these things exist at the Realtor level. I have clients with 100% UNBRANDED sites, that are producing hundreds of leads a month… Lets compare numbers?

    Seventh, effective branding should lead to higher conversion. Again, that’s the whole point of branding. If a shopper is looking for orange juice, the branding that Tropicana has spent billions on should mean that more of them pick Tropicana OJ over store-brand OJ. But no one thinks that Tropicana ads on TV is doing lead-generation. When Tropicana collaborates with the local grocery chain to do a mailing to residents with a $1.00 off coupon, that’s lead generation, and that does get measured on how many coupons were turned in.

    and how does a Realtor do branding. What can one Realtor TELL an sudience about himselve, that differentiates and the audience believes.. Realtors are not products.

    Eighth, since you say numbers don’t lie, do please share them with us. :) Specifically, we need to compare raw traffic and conversion rates using non-branded keywords from Google to a “Web 2.0″ site to the same to Realtor.com or ColdwellBanker.com or any other clearly Web 1.0 website.

    Rob, here is where our differences lie. (other than the fact you are smarter and I am better looking..)

    I think that one of the fails of Internet Branding IS search. You see, if I have already done a good enough job OFF line, to create that ColdwellBanker.com search, than why do I need to dupe my effort ON line. I think having a Broker site with brand is good. Leave it static and spread the gospel. But Internet Marketing should be used for INCREMENTAL business. People whom I havent touched off-line. I want to drive NEW traffic, leads and prospects to my site… not people I have already invested gobs of off-line money to touch already…

    I think you make great points, Jim, but once again, I don’t think you’re distinguishing branding vs. lead-generation sufficiently. Rather, you’re mashing the two together, and flipping everything to Google –> Traffic Capture –> Lead Capture –> Dollars which is fine… but not how you measure brand effectiveness. The sign of it, to me, is that you’re starting with Google, which implies that the customer is actively searching for real estate. Which implies that the customer is already “in the market”.

    Rob, thanks for the props. Really love the spirited discussion. But the post was about blogs and SM. Telling you that SM can drive traffic has NOTHING to do with Google. Until convinced I beleive that Real Estate, at the Realtor level is about relationships, and OF COURSE those relationships start well before a prospect decides to buy or sell. But the fact that you meet me on twitter, we have conversation, you start reading my blog and decide to buy a house from me 2 years later doesnt make this branding. It is Lead Gen. Slow burning lead gen, but lead gen.

    [Edited to make Jim's comments and my original more apparent, at Jim's request.]

  • http://virtualresults.net Jim Marks

    Rob, You know I love you man….but did you actually read my post?

    First of all, you need to deal with the research showing that only about 5% of traffic to a real estate website originates from a search engine.

    This is the type of data call that DRIVES ME CRAZY. Aggregate data is worth LESS than zero? Quoting this statistic is like saying “A piece of string is 11 inches” What string, whose string.. of course only 5% of traffic comes from Google.. cuz 99% of all RE websites get 0 traffic. Please show me Realtors sites that are getting hundreds of leads a month, and DONT rank well… I dare you.

    When the bulk of searches on Google that lead to a broker’s website is the name of the brokerage itself, I’m not convinced that SEO is the magic bullet for realtors.

    I never raised SEO, but IF the bulk is coming via the brokers name? Then by default the site is not SEO’d (or SEO’d properly)

    Second, if a realtor’s lead-gen efforts are limited to her own agent website, she’s got problems. For lead-gen, not taking advantage of everything out there from aggregators like Trulia, Homegain, Zillow, Realtor.com, as well as email lists, and offline initiatives like cold calling, open houses, cocktail parties, and the like is probably less than optimal.

    Granted. The conversation was about the effectiveness of SM, not whether it is ALL an agent should do…Doing only SM would be professional suicide.

    Fourth, branding –> business. That’s the reason to do branding at all. BMW has people walking into dealerships every day based on the power of its brand. The Apple store is filled with shoppers every day of the week, and I’m positive I have never been “leadgenned” on as a consumers. Of course realtors go to cocktail parties, community events, etc. — but do they walk in with a stack of their latest listing flyer? I don’t think so. They build relationships — of course they do. That’s the essence of branding. They don’t go up to every single guest at a Bar Mitzvah passing out cards, going, “I’m a realtor; call me if you’re looking for a house.” At least, I hope they don’t.

    Please explain Realtor Branding to me? See, I dont believe that a Realtor get to tell me who eh or she is? I will make that determination once I get to speak to them, or email with them. And how would they find me? Perhaps Social Media as part of their Lead Gen efforts… (LOL) I dont understand Realtor branding. I say “I want to buy a really cool car. SOmething well-built and Euro” A brand works here.. But what is a Realtor Brand? I want to hire a Realtor that is …? I dont think so. I think people hire Realtors they know and trust. Realtors they have a REALATIONSHIP with. Brokers have been telling agents to “brand themselves” of years? Please show me an agent who get mass biz because of their brand.

    Fifth, Twitter/Facebook create traffic… to what? If you don’t have a blog or even a 1.0 website, what do these social networking tools create traffic TO? Other Twitter updates?

    Now you are reaching! No marketing lives in a vacuum. Are you saying that because Twitter and Facebooks highest and best use is deriving traffic to a focal point to close, that THIS makes it not Marketing? Not lead gen? IF BMW drives people to their lots, does that mean their marketing isnt valid because without the lots they have nothing to drive to?

    Sixth, traffic without conversion is useless traffic… if your goal is lead-gen, and that’s how you measure effectiveness. But as I said, if your goal is branding, then you don’t measure effectiveness by “how many dollars from those clicks?” You measure that by brand awareness studies, longterm effect on the business, and brand value metrics.

    Please see above and show me a case of brand awareness studies, longterm effect on the business, and brand value metrics for a REALTOR? Again, I need someone to prove to me that these things exist at the Realtor level. I have clients with 100% UNBRANDED sites, that are producing hundreds of leads a month… Lets compare numbers?

    Seventh, effective branding should lead to higher conversion. Again, that’s the whole point of branding. If a shopper is looking for orange juice, the branding that Tropicana has spent billions on should mean that more of them pick Tropicana OJ over store-brand OJ. But no one thinks that Tropicana ads on TV is doing lead-generation. When Tropicana collaborates with the local grocery chain to do a mailing to residents with a $1.00 off coupon, that’s lead generation, and that does get measured on how many coupons were turned in.

    and how does a Realtor do branding. What can one Realtor TELL an sudience about himselve, that differentiates and the audience believes.. Realtors are not products.

    Eighth, since you say numbers don’t lie, do please share them with us. :) Specifically, we need to compare raw traffic and conversion rates using non-branded keywords from Google to a “Web 2.0″ site to the same to Realtor.com or ColdwellBanker.com or any other clearly Web 1.0 website.

    Rob, here is where our differences lie. (other than the fact you are smarter and I am better looking..)

    I think that one of the fails of Internet Branding IS search. You see, if I have already done a good enough job OFF line, to create that ColdwellBanker.com search, than why do I need to dupe my effort ON line. I think having a Broker site with brand is good. Leave it static and spread the gospel. But Internet Marketing should be used for INCREMENTAL business. People whom I havent touched off-line. I want to drive NEW traffic, leads and prospects to my site… not people I have already invested gobs of off-line money to touch already…

    I think you make great points, Jim, but once again, I don’t think you’re distinguishing branding vs. lead-generation sufficiently. Rather, you’re mashing the two together, and flipping everything to Google –> Traffic Capture –> Lead Capture –> Dollars which is fine… but not how you measure brand effectiveness. The sign of it, to me, is that you’re starting with Google, which implies that the customer is actively searching for real estate. Which implies that the customer is already “in the market”.

    Rob, thanks for the props. Really love the spirited discussion. But the post was about blogs and SM. Telling you that SM can drive traffic has NOTHING to do with Google. Until convinced I beleive that Real Estate, at the Realtor level is about relationships, and OF COURSE those relationships start well before a prospect decides to buy or sell. But the fact that you meet me on twitter, we have conversation, you start reading my blog and decide to buy a house from me 2 years later doesnt make this branding. It is Lead Gen. Slow burning lead gen, but lead gen.

    [Edited to make Jim's comments and my original more apparent, at Jim's request.]

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/ Jay Thompson

    “First of all, you need to deal with the research showing that only about 5% of traffic to a real estate website originates from a search engine”

    I don’t need to deal with that:

    Last 30 Days, TPREG.com:
    Search Engines 35,669.00 (65.68%)
    Referring Sites 12,634.00 (23.26%)
    Direct Traffic 6,005.00 (11.06%)

    “When the bulk of searches on Google that lead to a broker’s website is the name of the brokerage itself, I’m not convinced that SEO is the magic bullet for realtors.”

    Total number of visitors from searches = 35,669. Number of search terms used = 19,853. 522 visits were the those using the term “Phoenix Real Estate Guy”. 52 = “Jay Thompson”.

    That leaves 35,095 that found the site using something other than the brokerage name / “brand”.

    Perhaps this means I’ve done a lousy job branding the brokerage. Or maybe this means all those posts on tax credits, the home buying process, Phoenix neighborhoods, the mortgage mess, Phoenix market conditions, foreclosures, etc etc ad nauseum really do work.

    Just because WAV Group puts out something saying only 5% of traffic to a real estate site originates from a search engine doesn’t make it true for every real estate site.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      Thanks for the stats, Jay.

      But I rather think this is more of a statement about you as a blogger, and how you’ve transcended the local market, than about the WAV Group study. :) There really aren’t that many national-level realtor bloggers around, y’know?

      I read your blog, and I’m pretty sure you will never see a piece of business from me.

      -rsh

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    “First of all, you need to deal with the research showing that only about 5% of traffic to a real estate website originates from a search engine”

    I don’t need to deal with that:

    Last 30 Days, TPREG.com:
    Search Engines 35,669.00 (65.68%)
    Referring Sites 12,634.00 (23.26%)
    Direct Traffic 6,005.00 (11.06%)

    “When the bulk of searches on Google that lead to a broker’s website is the name of the brokerage itself, I’m not convinced that SEO is the magic bullet for realtors.”

    Total number of visitors from searches = 35,669. Number of search terms used = 19,853. 522 visits were the those using the term “Phoenix Real Estate Guy”. 52 = “Jay Thompson”.

    That leaves 35,095 that found the site using something other than the brokerage name / “brand”.

    Perhaps this means I’ve done a lousy job branding the brokerage. Or maybe this means all those posts on tax credits, the home buying process, Phoenix neighborhoods, the mortgage mess, Phoenix market conditions, foreclosures, etc etc ad nauseum really do work.

    Just because WAV Group puts out something saying only 5% of traffic to a real estate site originates from a search engine doesn’t make it true for every real estate site.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      Thanks for the stats, Jay.

      But I rather think this is more of a statement about you as a blogger, and how you’ve transcended the local market, than about the WAV Group study. :) There really aren’t that many national-level realtor bloggers around, y’know?

      I read your blog, and I’m pretty sure you will never see a piece of business from me.

      -rsh

  • http://www.itkeepsyourunning.com/ Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

    I think Jay makes some really valid points – at the micro level you don’t need a lot of traffic if you are providing specific information that the consumer is looking for. Also at the micro-level branding is less important because that type of website visitor many times has an instant need (ready to buy or sell right now). Often success is simply being the first one to make contact and build a connection with the consumer.

    What I like about these types of discussions is that we as agents need to have at least some idea of how we want to reach out and it shouldn’t always be about pushing listings and market stats. Agree that a lot of it is, and will continue to be, putting your site, your brand, yourself where consumers are; that can be either online or offline.

  • http://www.itkeepsyourunning.com Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

    I think Jay makes some really valid points – at the micro level you don’t need a lot of traffic if you are providing specific information that the consumer is looking for. Also at the micro-level branding is less important because that type of website visitor many times has an instant need (ready to buy or sell right now). Often success is simply being the first one to make contact and build a connection with the consumer.

    What I like about these types of discussions is that we as agents need to have at least some idea of how we want to reach out and it shouldn’t always be about pushing listings and market stats. Agree that a lot of it is, and will continue to be, putting your site, your brand, yourself where consumers are; that can be either online or offline.

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/ Jay Thompson

    “I read your blog, and I’m pretty sure you will never see a piece of business from me.”

    Never say never my friend! You may decide to up and move to Phoenix some day. And if you do, you *better* call me! (Actually, call my wife, she’s a far better agent than I am) ;)

    Why wouldn’t you move to Phoenix, where the high this Saturday is forecast for 117 degrees. What’s not to love?

    As for transcending the local market, that’s kind of an important thing to do — if your market has a significant amount of inflow from outside the area. For example, if it weren’t for Canadian buyers last year, I’d be eating a lot of Ramen and the children would have no shoes.

    Wanna market to Canadian (or California, or whatever) buyers? Write blog posts that cover what they need. Sure beats mailing random postcards to Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, Saskatoon, LA, San Diego, SF, et al.

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    “I read your blog, and I’m pretty sure you will never see a piece of business from me.”

    Never say never my friend! You may decide to up and move to Phoenix some day. And if you do, you *better* call me! (Actually, call my wife, she’s a far better agent than I am) ;)

    Why wouldn’t you move to Phoenix, where the high this Saturday is forecast for 117 degrees. What’s not to love?

    As for transcending the local market, that’s kind of an important thing to do — if your market has a significant amount of inflow from outside the area. For example, if it weren’t for Canadian buyers last year, I’d be eating a lot of Ramen and the children would have no shoes.

    Wanna market to Canadian (or California, or whatever) buyers? Write blog posts that cover what they need. Sure beats mailing random postcards to Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria, Saskatoon, LA, San Diego, SF, et al.

  • Pingback: Bulletins - Hawaii Information Service » Blog Archive » Blogging for Branding

  • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

    @Jay -

    Now, what’s interesting is that IF I ever decide to move to Phoenix area, there’s very little doubt in my mind that I would call you. Why is that? Because you, Jay Thompson, have effectively branded yourself as a good agent. Are you the best realtor in Phoenix? I have no idea. Maybe other PHX agents would claim they are “better” than you are. But you’re branded in my mind, and I’m not in the market. Well, not your market. :)

    That’s sort of my point.

    Blogging and social media, to me, are powerful brand tools that can get you top of mind to a consumer who is not in the market. Once we start talking about Google and SERPS and such, we’re now talking about consumers who are in the market. They have a need. They seek solutions to fill that need. They go do Google searches, and typically, they do searches for “houses in LOCATION” or “LOCATION real estate” or some such.

    Branding plays a role there, to be sure, and things like blogs help with your SEO efforts, but those are not the reasons (IMHO) to do blogs and social media.

    Brand effectively, and you won’t need to mail postcards to Canada or anywhere. They’ll come to you. Because you have an effective brand.

    -rsh

  • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

    @Jay -

    Now, what’s interesting is that IF I ever decide to move to Phoenix area, there’s very little doubt in my mind that I would call you. Why is that? Because you, Jay Thompson, have effectively branded yourself as a good agent. Are you the best realtor in Phoenix? I have no idea. Maybe other PHX agents would claim they are “better” than you are. But you’re branded in my mind, and I’m not in the market. Well, not your market. :)

    That’s sort of my point.

    Blogging and social media, to me, are powerful brand tools that can get you top of mind to a consumer who is not in the market. Once we start talking about Google and SERPS and such, we’re now talking about consumers who are in the market. They have a need. They seek solutions to fill that need. They go do Google searches, and typically, they do searches for “houses in LOCATION” or “LOCATION real estate” or some such.

    Branding plays a role there, to be sure, and things like blogs help with your SEO efforts, but those are not the reasons (IMHO) to do blogs and social media.

    Brand effectively, and you won’t need to mail postcards to Canada or anywhere. They’ll come to you. Because you have an effective brand.

    -rsh

  • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

    @Jim -

    Fascinating debate, Jim. :) As I expected.

    I guess at issue is the notion of “branding” for a Realtor — as you’ve asked multiple times. I hope this isn’t just a semantic difference, where I call something “branding” and you call it “slow burning lead-gen”.

    But let’s take Jay Thompson as an example of effective realtor branding.

    I do not intend to move to PHX. Ever. I like visiting the desert, but I don’t want to live there. So the fact that I follow Jay on Twitter, that I read his blog, that I see his FB updates, etc. is completely irrelevant from a “lead-gen” standpoint,”slow-burn” or not. That Jay’s SM efforts drive me to his blog, to his website, etc. does not convert me into a “lead” by any definition of the word. I am not in the market for PHX real estate, period.

    But he has done a remarkable job of branding himself as a capable, knowledgeable local real estate professional in the PHX market, to me. His blog, his tweets, his SM efforts all have convinced me that Jay knows his stuff, that he’s a friendly, likable guy, and that I could trust him. We have, in your words, built a relationship. But I’m still not a lead, because I’m not in the market.

    If for some unforeseen reason, I am forced to move to PHX, then yes, I would absolutely call Jay first. At a minimum, he would be on my short list of realtors to call. Now that I am in the market, I suppose I am a “lead” — but I’m going to make his phone ring without any further effort on his part. That, to me, is the power of branding.

    And professionals absolutely brand themselves — I’ve laid out how companies like McKinsey does it. I can do more to show how some of the top lawyers in the country do it. I can talk about investment bankers and how they do it. All of them selling without selling, and doing it before the target customer even realizes that he has a need.

    My point is that blogging is the BASIS of this branding effort. Without it, the rest of social media falls apart. And because social media is not so great for lead-gen (slow burn or otherwise), whereas Web 1.0 is rather effective, I am disputing David’s proposition that blogging is so 2008.

    If your interest as a realtor is reaching people already in the market, then social media is not an effective use of your time, IMHO. You’re probably better off putting more listings on your site, and working on your SEO, as well as making phone calls. But if your interest is in building a brand as an expert (and whatever other brand promise you want to make), then blogging (in whatever form: photo, video, audio, written) absolutely has to be at the heart of that strategy.

    -rsh

  • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

    @Jim -

    Fascinating debate, Jim. :) As I expected.

    I guess at issue is the notion of “branding” for a Realtor — as you’ve asked multiple times. I hope this isn’t just a semantic difference, where I call something “branding” and you call it “slow burning lead-gen”.

    But let’s take Jay Thompson as an example of effective realtor branding.

    I do not intend to move to PHX. Ever. I like visiting the desert, but I don’t want to live there. So the fact that I follow Jay on Twitter, that I read his blog, that I see his FB updates, etc. is completely irrelevant from a “lead-gen” standpoint,”slow-burn” or not. That Jay’s SM efforts drive me to his blog, to his website, etc. does not convert me into a “lead” by any definition of the word. I am not in the market for PHX real estate, period.

    But he has done a remarkable job of branding himself as a capable, knowledgeable local real estate professional in the PHX market, to me. His blog, his tweets, his SM efforts all have convinced me that Jay knows his stuff, that he’s a friendly, likable guy, and that I could trust him. We have, in your words, built a relationship. But I’m still not a lead, because I’m not in the market.

    If for some unforeseen reason, I am forced to move to PHX, then yes, I would absolutely call Jay first. At a minimum, he would be on my short list of realtors to call. Now that I am in the market, I suppose I am a “lead” — but I’m going to make his phone ring without any further effort on his part. That, to me, is the power of branding.

    And professionals absolutely brand themselves — I’ve laid out how companies like McKinsey does it. I can do more to show how some of the top lawyers in the country do it. I can talk about investment bankers and how they do it. All of them selling without selling, and doing it before the target customer even realizes that he has a need.

    My point is that blogging is the BASIS of this branding effort. Without it, the rest of social media falls apart. And because social media is not so great for lead-gen (slow burn or otherwise), whereas Web 1.0 is rather effective, I am disputing David’s proposition that blogging is so 2008.

    If your interest as a realtor is reaching people already in the market, then social media is not an effective use of your time, IMHO. You’re probably better off putting more listings on your site, and working on your SEO, as well as making phone calls. But if your interest is in building a brand as an expert (and whatever other brand promise you want to make), then blogging (in whatever form: photo, video, audio, written) absolutely has to be at the heart of that strategy.

    -rsh

  • http://virtualresults.net/ Jim Marks

    Rob,

    Do me a favor, without looking away from this page…no…no..dont.

    Right now type in what it is that Jay stands for, what is his promise. What is his brand. (DON’T LOOK AWAY)

    Next, write down how you found him. How do you come to know Jay?

    Lastly, explain why you would use him. Is it his brand? or your relationship with him….

    See, I would also use Jay without a shadow of a doubt. I have NO IDEA what his brand is. I haven’t read a ton of his posts (note to self: subscribe to Jays Blog)

    But he reached out to me one night on twitter. We had some conversation.. I met him, and after MAYBE a whopping hour or two of total communication? I trust him.

    Jay never told me he was a great agent. Jay never told me he was trustworthy. Jay never told me much about Jay. Because if he did, I would have been LESS inclined to trust him.

    I just don’t believe that Realtors can brand themselves.

    If I meet you at a party and immediate start telling you how rich I am, what kind of car I drive, etc.. WHAT AM I REALLY TELLING YOU…

    Stop trying to brand. Be genuine. Be transparent. Be Caring. Be Honest. These things are not brands… They are the traits of a Realtor I want to hire…

  • http://virtualresults.net Jim Marks

    Rob,

    Do me a favor, without looking away from this page…no…no..dont.

    Right now type in what it is that Jay stands for, what is his promise. What is his brand. (DON’T LOOK AWAY)

    Next, write down how you found him. How do you come to know Jay?

    Lastly, explain why you would use him. Is it his brand? or your relationship with him….

    See, I would also use Jay without a shadow of a doubt. I have NO IDEA what his brand is. I haven’t read a ton of his posts (note to self: subscribe to Jays Blog)

    But he reached out to me one night on twitter. We had some conversation.. I met him, and after MAYBE a whopping hour or two of total communication? I trust him.

    Jay never told me he was a great agent. Jay never told me he was trustworthy. Jay never told me much about Jay. Because if he did, I would have been LESS inclined to trust him.

    I just don’t believe that Realtors can brand themselves.

    If I meet you at a party and immediate start telling you how rich I am, what kind of car I drive, etc.. WHAT AM I REALLY TELLING YOU…

    Stop trying to brand. Be genuine. Be transparent. Be Caring. Be Honest. These things are not brands… They are the traits of a Realtor I want to hire…

  • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

    @Jim

    You’ll just have to trust me that I did not look away from this page.

    In my mind, Jay Thompson stands for integrity above all. Why do I say that? One of the first posts I’ve read on his site was about the bubble in real estate back when every Tom, Dick and Harry was claiming that real estate prices are gonna keep on truckin’ The supply-and-demand cycle was in balance, these defenders of the Bubble claimed. Jay was one of the only working realtors going, “Whoa there, wait one minute… this shit don’t make no sense.”

    I have since read posts from his talking about the tax credit, about the local PHX market, and a dozen other topics that convinced me that the man knows his stuff. Do I know that he’s the BEST realtor in PHX? I don’t. But I know enough, and without him once tooting his own horn about how great he is. He didn’t tell me he’s great; he showed me.

    That’s the power of social media branding. Maybe I’m completely fooled, and Jay is actually a lying son of a bitch snake oil salesman who’s about to be convicted for multiple counts of fraud. I really doubt it though.

    And why do you think “branding” has to be less than genuine, or less than transparent? Most branding experts would tell you that a brand built on lies will fall apart with the first experience of it. BMW isn’t making shit up when they brand their cars for the “sports driving enthusiast”. Their cars actually do perform as advertised/branded. Apple isn’t bullshitting us with their brand promise of innovation, clean design, and user-friendliness. Apple’s stuff works exactly as branded.

    Maybe that’s where the first confusion arises from — that you think of branding as fakery. Real brands are not built on lies; they are built on truths. They are built on authenticity and transparency.

    -rsh

  • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

    @Jim

    You’ll just have to trust me that I did not look away from this page.

    In my mind, Jay Thompson stands for integrity above all. Why do I say that? One of the first posts I’ve read on his site was about the bubble in real estate back when every Tom, Dick and Harry was claiming that real estate prices are gonna keep on truckin’ The supply-and-demand cycle was in balance, these defenders of the Bubble claimed. Jay was one of the only working realtors going, “Whoa there, wait one minute… this shit don’t make no sense.”

    I have since read posts from his talking about the tax credit, about the local PHX market, and a dozen other topics that convinced me that the man knows his stuff. Do I know that he’s the BEST realtor in PHX? I don’t. But I know enough, and without him once tooting his own horn about how great he is. He didn’t tell me he’s great; he showed me.

    That’s the power of social media branding. Maybe I’m completely fooled, and Jay is actually a lying son of a bitch snake oil salesman who’s about to be convicted for multiple counts of fraud. I really doubt it though.

    And why do you think “branding” has to be less than genuine, or less than transparent? Most branding experts would tell you that a brand built on lies will fall apart with the first experience of it. BMW isn’t making shit up when they brand their cars for the “sports driving enthusiast”. Their cars actually do perform as advertised/branded. Apple isn’t bullshitting us with their brand promise of innovation, clean design, and user-friendliness. Apple’s stuff works exactly as branded.

    Maybe that’s where the first confusion arises from — that you think of branding as fakery. Real brands are not built on lies; they are built on truths. They are built on authenticity and transparency.

    -rsh

  • http://virtualresults.net/ Jim Marks

    So this is your definition? The difference between lead gen and branding is that lead gen is only to be directed at someone in the market for your product, and branding is for everyone else?

    What form of marketing targets ONLY those in the market for a house? Even POST cards cant do that. Door Knocking cant. What can?

    Do Realtors do any Lead Gen?

    Jays blog turned you into a Jay prospect. But even if you NEVER move to Phoenix.. Jays blog, because of its wide net SEO, has turned 10,000 you’s into Jays prospects. Some of them don’t know it but later this year, or next they WILL be moving to PHX.. and guess what… some of them started LOOKING to move to Phoenix and found Jay.

    Dude, this is not semantics. This is lead generation.

    (PS: Rob, Thanks for another fun debate! Dig rapping with ya. Peace out)

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com/ Rob Hahn

      Targeting != acquiring. I can target only those in the market; doesn’t mean that every single person I talk to will be in the market. When doing lead-gen, you knock on a door, the person says, “I’m not in the market”, and then you just move on.

      One way to think of it, I suppose, is to look at how you’d measure it. Under your definition, where everything is lead generation, I suppose CB’s TV commercial that ran on a TV show with a 5 million audience should report that CB now has 5 million leads?

      I don’t know anyone who would accept such a definition of a “lead”.

      -rsh

  • http://virtualresults.net Jim Marks

    So this is your definition? The difference between lead gen and branding is that lead gen is only to be directed at someone in the market for your product, and branding is for everyone else?

    What form of marketing targets ONLY those in the market for a house? Even POST cards cant do that. Door Knocking cant. What can?

    Do Realtors do any Lead Gen?

    Jays blog turned you into a Jay prospect. But even if you NEVER move to Phoenix.. Jays blog, because of its wide net SEO, has turned 10,000 you’s into Jays prospects. Some of them don’t know it but later this year, or next they WILL be moving to PHX.. and guess what… some of them started LOOKING to move to Phoenix and found Jay.

    Dude, this is not semantics. This is lead generation.

    (PS: Rob, Thanks for another fun debate! Dig rapping with ya. Peace out)

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Rob Hahn

      Targeting != acquiring. I can target only those in the market; doesn’t mean that every single person I talk to will be in the market. When doing lead-gen, you knock on a door, the person says, “I’m not in the market”, and then you just move on.

      One way to think of it, I suppose, is to look at how you’d measure it. Under your definition, where everything is lead generation, I suppose CB’s TV commercial that ran on a TV show with a 5 million audience should report that CB now has 5 million leads?

      I don’t know anyone who would accept such a definition of a “lead”.

      -rsh

  • http://www.pmorganbrown.com/ Morgan

    Interestingly enough John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing just wrote a post called “Content Creates Engagement” here: http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/2009/07/08/content-creates-engagement/

    Which includes the following (borrowing heavily here):

    …It’s hard to create much momentum in any kind of social network without some of those qualities, but true engagement, engagement that leads to customers and partners, is created with content. Or, perhaps more accurately, engagement is created with engaging content.

    I know you’re likely sick of me talking about the need to create lots of education rich content, but there’s just very few ways around it as a typical small business. Some exceptions, marry into lots of money and buy super bowl ads, get Miley Cyrus to wear your product on stage, or get Michael Arrington and Robert Scoble to argue publicly about the merits of your feature set – baring these, think content creation.

    When it comes to effective social media use, I personally push towards using a great deal of energy and activity to create awareness for your content. So, of course if you’re to take this advice, you’ve got to have lots of content. Many people do little more than create small talk on social networks and then wonder why they can’t get an ROI for time spent. Most small businesses will be far better off if they look at their status updates on LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter, not as a way to tell the world about what they are doing (unless it’s creating content), but as a way to shed light on valuable content housed either within the particular social network or elsewhere online.

    I think its rather good advice. One of the sessions that I wanted to run at REBCOC was a session on social media workflow and how you fit this into your day as part of your overall marketing efforts vs. doing it as a hobby and because it is fun.

  • http://www.pmorganbrown.com Morgan

    Interestingly enough John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing just wrote a post called “Content Creates Engagement” here: http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/2009/07/08/content-creates-engagement/

    Which includes the following (borrowing heavily here):

    …It’s hard to create much momentum in any kind of social network without some of those qualities, but true engagement, engagement that leads to customers and partners, is created with content. Or, perhaps more accurately, engagement is created with engaging content.

    I know you’re likely sick of me talking about the need to create lots of education rich content, but there’s just very few ways around it as a typical small business. Some exceptions, marry into lots of money and buy super bowl ads, get Miley Cyrus to wear your product on stage, or get Michael Arrington and Robert Scoble to argue publicly about the merits of your feature set – baring these, think content creation.

    When it comes to effective social media use, I personally push towards using a great deal of energy and activity to create awareness for your content. So, of course if you’re to take this advice, you’ve got to have lots of content. Many people do little more than create small talk on social networks and then wonder why they can’t get an ROI for time spent. Most small businesses will be far better off if they look at their status updates on LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter, not as a way to tell the world about what they are doing (unless it’s creating content), but as a way to shed light on valuable content housed either within the particular social network or elsewhere online.

    I think its rather good advice. One of the sessions that I wanted to run at REBCOC was a session on social media workflow and how you fit this into your day as part of your overall marketing efforts vs. doing it as a hobby and because it is fun.

  • http://iciclecreekrealestate.com/ Geordie Romer | Leavenworth WA

    Rob-

    I think you are off when it comes to SEO.

    I am a small time local blogger who works a nice little niche.

    Last 30 Days on IcicleCreekRealEstate.com

    Search 43% of visitors
    Links 28%
    Direct 26%

    Folks find my blog because it ranks well for search terms like “Leavenworth Real Estate” but also for information about long tail terms like “Ponderosa Estates” or “Kahler glen condos”.

    If the big brokers are only getting 5% of their traffic from search I think it just proves what kind of idiots are running the show.

    I think a branding opportunity exists with a real estate blog, but I think that lead generation that comes from SEO is the name of the game.

    David’s video reminds of the following high school scenario.

    Scene: High school basketball gym

    Crowd A: We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?
    Crowd B:We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?

    Crowd A:We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?
    Crowd B:We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?

    Crowd A:We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?

    Crowd B is obviously getting drowned out by the louder fans.

    We got more, Check the score! We got more, Check the score! Pointing to the scoreboard.

    David – Blogging may be 2008, but check the score.

    Other companies are shutting their doors and I’m happily employed. My phone is ringing and I’m selling houses.

  • http://iciclecreekrealestate.com Geordie Romer | Leavenworth WA

    Rob-

    I think you are off when it comes to SEO.

    I am a small time local blogger who works a nice little niche.

    Last 30 Days on IcicleCreekRealEstate.com

    Search 43% of visitors
    Links 28%
    Direct 26%

    Folks find my blog because it ranks well for search terms like “Leavenworth Real Estate” but also for information about long tail terms like “Ponderosa Estates” or “Kahler glen condos”.

    If the big brokers are only getting 5% of their traffic from search I think it just proves what kind of idiots are running the show.

    I think a branding opportunity exists with a real estate blog, but I think that lead generation that comes from SEO is the name of the game.

    David’s video reminds of the following high school scenario.

    Scene: High school basketball gym

    Crowd A: We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?
    Crowd B:We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?

    Crowd A:We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?
    Crowd B:We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?

    Crowd A:We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit yes do, how bout you?

    Crowd B is obviously getting drowned out by the louder fans.

    We got more, Check the score! We got more, Check the score! Pointing to the scoreboard.

    David – Blogging may be 2008, but check the score.

    Other companies are shutting their doors and I’m happily employed. My phone is ringing and I’m selling houses.

  • http://www.prusantafe.com/ Brian Tercero

    Excellent video, I want to thank David for being so detailed in his explanation. Blogging is something every real estate agent should be doing, we have been preaching it for years.

    What everyone has to do now is look ahead and I think that is exactly what David was expressing.

    We assume that every single agent is blogging, and now its time to kick it into another gear and utilize all the other opportunities. Social Media is huge all on its own, but those that effectively use it to drive traffic to their blogs, even better.

    The problem is that 75% of Realtors (I made up my own percentage, Im sure we could push that up even further!) are still struggling with reading their email on their phones, learning how to text message! Much less start a blog. Yes blogging is saturated, but how many are actually blogging for business? Automatic blogs scraping content from RISMedia dosnt count!

    There is a new generation of Realtors on the horizon. Never has there been such a grand opportunity for people who embrace and use technology as part of their lives to grasp a hold of the market. It has nothing to do with age, I have 50-60 year old brokers who will turn circles around the kids on Twitter. It is simply those who are willing to learn how to use something new.

    Bring on the future!

    Enough of the days of real estate agents who dont answer their phones, dont respond to emails, dont know how to text message… We need a new level of customer service, we need those who embrace technology as a tool.

    I look at the future of real estate as a breathe of fresh air.

  • http://www.prusantafe.com Brian Tercero

    Excellent video, I want to thank David for being so detailed in his explanation. Blogging is something every real estate agent should be doing, we have been preaching it for years.

    What everyone has to do now is look ahead and I think that is exactly what David was expressing.

    We assume that every single agent is blogging, and now its time to kick it into another gear and utilize all the other opportunities. Social Media is huge all on its own, but those that effectively use it to drive traffic to their blogs, even better.

    The problem is that 75% of Realtors (I made up my own percentage, Im sure we could push that up even further!) are still struggling with reading their email on their phones, learning how to text message! Much less start a blog. Yes blogging is saturated, but how many are actually blogging for business? Automatic blogs scraping content from RISMedia dosnt count!

    There is a new generation of Realtors on the horizon. Never has there been such a grand opportunity for people who embrace and use technology as part of their lives to grasp a hold of the market. It has nothing to do with age, I have 50-60 year old brokers who will turn circles around the kids on Twitter. It is simply those who are willing to learn how to use something new.

    Bring on the future!

    Enough of the days of real estate agents who dont answer their phones, dont respond to emails, dont know how to text message… We need a new level of customer service, we need those who embrace technology as a tool.

    I look at the future of real estate as a breathe of fresh air.

  • http://www.BrandCandid.com/ Ken Brand

    Great, great post and follow up comments. Something to sit and ponder. My 2cents = Branding and Top of Mind Awareness/Recall is the key.

    Branding is defined fuzzily by marketing gurus everywhere, to me, in real estate, it means how do people feel about you as an agent. Are you competent, trustworthy, approachable, etc. I think blogging in all it’s forms will reveal these traits to the viewer/reader/prospect/consumer. Branding is everything; your writing style, your tone, the subjects you talk about, the look and feel of your presence, everything that generates an emotional or intellectual attraction, repulsion or yawn.

    Top of Mind Awareness/Recall is created by Repetition, Relevance and Remarkability. Consistent quality blogging in all it forms will create Top of Mind Awareness/Recall.

    The X factor to amplifying these two is understanding the Analytics and how to point and shoot your messages.

    From what I see, many are skilled at creating branding and TOMA, which is semi-natural for a good communicator and interesting person. The technical stuff is difficult to learn, there aren’t many classes or venues and as pointed out, there are only a few in the country who understand how to do it.

    In our market we have some fairly active bloggers/FB/Twitter agents, most aren’t wildly successful yet. We have the usual number of hyper-successful who roll old-school and have barely dipped a toe into the online waters. I know. That’s today, a year of two or more it may be different.

    The secret to success, IMHO, is on-purpose, in-person personal contact and conversation. Whether it’s online marketing/branding/promotion, direct mail, Open House or what ever, it’s all the pathway to Face to Face interaction and engagement.

    Thanks for the article. Thought provoking stuff.

  • http://www.BrandCandid.com Ken Brand

    Great, great post and follow up comments. Something to sit and ponder. My 2cents = Branding and Top of Mind Awareness/Recall is the key.

    Branding is defined fuzzily by marketing gurus everywhere, to me, in real estate, it means how do people feel about you as an agent. Are you competent, trustworthy, approachable, etc. I think blogging in all it’s forms will reveal these traits to the viewer/reader/prospect/consumer. Branding is everything; your writing style, your tone, the subjects you talk about, the look and feel of your presence, everything that generates an emotional or intellectual attraction, repulsion or yawn.

    Top of Mind Awareness/Recall is created by Repetition, Relevance and Remarkability. Consistent quality blogging in all it forms will create Top of Mind Awareness/Recall.

    The X factor to amplifying these two is understanding the Analytics and how to point and shoot your messages.

    From what I see, many are skilled at creating branding and TOMA, which is semi-natural for a good communicator and interesting person. The technical stuff is difficult to learn, there aren’t many classes or venues and as pointed out, there are only a few in the country who understand how to do it.

    In our market we have some fairly active bloggers/FB/Twitter agents, most aren’t wildly successful yet. We have the usual number of hyper-successful who roll old-school and have barely dipped a toe into the online waters. I know. That’s today, a year of two or more it may be different.

    The secret to success, IMHO, is on-purpose, in-person personal contact and conversation. Whether it’s online marketing/branding/promotion, direct mail, Open House or what ever, it’s all the pathway to Face to Face interaction and engagement.

    Thanks for the article. Thought provoking stuff.

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