Monthly Archives: May 2011

Passion and Technique: A Response to Matthew Shadbolt

Ready to write blogposts, you are not, young padawan.

I started writing a response to this amazing comment by Matthew Shadbolt of Corcoran, and thought… it’s too long to go into the comments. It deserves a post of its own.

Basically, Matthew’s challenge poses the question of passion on the one hand and technique on the other:

So, just as we disagreed yesterday with the advice of ‘post great content that people will want to share’, ‘be passionate’ isn’t an endgame in itself either. I feel like passionate content exists in real estate, pretty much only within social at the moment (I wouldn’t characterize any type of online home search as ‘passionate’ although I would love it to be), but my criticism of such content is that it is very often poorly executed. There is a very important quality issue missing from the content creation discussion. If it looks like crap, is tough to hear, or unreadable, people will not use it, no matter how ‘passionate’ the intent behind it – as a result your work becomes invisible. This is why I disagree with Rob’s point that you can’t strategize around creative – I think you have to. This is what ad agencies do, and why some in the real estate industry hear the call to think of themselves more as media companies, especially around their marketing. [Emphasis mine]

It’s an excellent point. Who cares how passionate you are about whatever topic, or how committed you are… if you just suck? No one will care about your passion if you can’t put it into a form that audiences can consume. Right?

Well, sort of.

I’ve actually written on this topic before, in the context of video. Back in 2009, I wrote in The Price of Artifice:

Because the audience expectation is so high when it comes to professional work, in order to avoid looking like an idiot, your execution must be extraordinary.  This is both prohibitively expensive and incredibly difficult.

Turns out, the theme and the idea are both applicable to all content of any kind. You need both passion and technique, and perhaps my error in the first post was assuming/taking it for granted that anyone who would write a blogpost about his town with passion is at least in possession of above-average writing ability. At the same time, I don’t believe that professional marketers are always aware of the tradeoff between passion/authenticity and technique/skill.

Let us explore further.

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On Content Creation Strategies

James Joyce, who cared not a whit about the "audience"

This morning, I got into a bit of an interesting discussion on Twitter with Maura Neill, Daniel Rothamel, Matthew Shadbolt, Josh Ferris and others. It was about content creation strategies.

At almost every agent-oriented real estate conference you might have attended in the past few years, and are likely to attend in the next couple, various people offer various advice to real estate agents on how to create “great content” for their blogs, websites, Facebook Pages, and so on.

The most frequently cited advice is something along these lines: “Know your audience and what they want; you can’t lose if you do”.

I emphatically disagree with this, and consider it to be very, very bad advice. It turns out that when it comes to content, knowing your audience and what they want is almost entirely counterproductive for all but the few (I’ll explain below). My advice: “Create content that you find compelling and forget everything else.”

Let’s get into why.

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NAR Should Clarify RPPI Distribution Scheme

So, who's figured out how to distribute all this money?

In the aftermath of the vote on REALTOR Party Political Survival Initiative (RPPI), NAR has released a document showing where the funds will be going (PDF). I’m not entirely sure what some of the terms mean. For example, what does “Campaign Services” cover? What is the difference between “Issue Mobilization Program” and “Issue Coordinated Campaigns”? I figure I could probably learn more about it in the next few weeks.

But the real question arises in the footnotes. (Don’t they usually?)

Footnote 2 says this:

The program dollar amounts (rounded) in the 2012-2016 budget years are based upon the proposed RPPSI budgets & a constant of 1,050,000 members, except for the state/local candidates IE Program, explained in Note #4. The state/local IE Candidates Program is the only program that has a “per member” allocation as a formally stated component of its operation. Direct funding or use of services in all other programs is approved based upon submitted applications that outline the issue and need. Additional programs for education and new pilot initiatives that are approved as the RPPSI evolves will result in adjustments to the annual per member allocation amounts.

Footnote 4, referenced above, says this:

This is in response to AE & Member feedback requesting an updated distribution of State & Local Independent Expenditure Campaign resources over the five (5) year period and does not reflect the Executive Committee’s recommendation prepared subsequent to the Finance Committee’s 2012-2013 budget proposal.

The chart following, in footnote 4, shows that of the $6.31 per member allocated to “State & Local Candidates IE Program” breaks down as $4.73 for Annualized State Allocation (Per Member) and $1.58 for Annualized NAR Reserve Pool (Per Member).

People say I’m a pretty smart guy, but man… I’m confused.

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On Franchise IDX, Industry Rules, and Complaints

Huh? Franchise IDX? What the...

I think this mostly analytical, mostly opinion post nows goes beyond the ambit of my NAR Midyear coverage. So, many many thanks to Zillow for sponsoring the Midyear series (I may have more of them in the future) but this post is sponsor-free.

Predictably, the news from Midyear about Franchise IDX has resulted in mass confusion and criticism from industry experts. Now that the Board of Directors actually voted in a policy, the various people responsible for implementing it — namely the MLS and the Association staff and consultants who provide guidance to them — are trying to figure out what that means for them.

At the same time, a number of observers and experts bemoan the decision, and point to it as an example of how backwards the real estate industry is, how out of touch the MLS’s are, and so on. I give you two of the better, more influential critiques.

First comes from Brian Boero of 1000watt Consulting who writes:

Others have reported on the series of events that led to this. The details matter, of course, but the reason I believe this swift policy reversal is wrongheaded has nothing to do with the details.

It’s about the lessons of the past that were ignored and dimmed prospects for industry innovation in the future.

Second, Matthew Ferrara — a brilliant guy and a consultant to some of the top companies in the industry — opines that the decisions at Midyear means the beginning of the end of the MLS:

Over the weekend, the National Association of REALTORS voted to become more like a union, and to start the process of killing off MLS. Did you miss that vote, too? We thought so.

I strongly recommend reading both of their posts in full.

It is fairly rare that I disagree with anything that either gentleman says or writes. But in this case, I must because I think both are missing some critical details in the dispute which are important for understanding both the vote itself and what it signifies for the industry.

Onward to the discussion. Warning: this is likely to be long. [ED: Yeah, like that’s so unusual for you, Rob.]

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Midyear Report: Reflections on RPPI #2 – Impact & Next Steps

This post, and this series of reports and opinions from NAR Mid-Year 2011, brought to you by:

Now that the RPPI (formerly known as RPPSI) has been approved by the NAR Board of Directors… what is the actual impact? Passing the thing was just the first step. The absolutely critical work of implementing whatever programs the RPPI enables comes next, and here is where the future of NAR and of the industry may be set in place.

I offer some observations from Midyear itself, as well as opinions both well- and ill-informed.

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