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e-Pro is a Tinfoil Badge

Leather_head Go ahead, spend the $359 dollars with Internet Crusade and NAR.  Then, you get to tell everyone that you are an e-Pro!  Congratulations!  Now you know how to use email, what a 'connected consumer' is and you might have some handy stats from 2001 to throw around.  The e-Pro class is so far removed from what it takes to be competitive in the internet marketplace, that 'graduates' deserve nothing but a tinfoil badge for their efforts. 

Here's what they promise:

Upon completion of this Section, the e-PRO Candidate will be able to:

    1. Identify the skills required for success in the New Real Estate Industry
    2. List the key characteristics of the new real estate professional
    3. Recognize the fundamental demands and expectations of the Connected Consumer
    4. List the key components of the technology investment and what will be required to compete in the New Real Estate Industry
    5. Actively participate in Listserv discussions
---

Let's look at these one at a time:
1. After browsing though the syllabus of the course I found that the e-Pro Candidate will learn how to use email, choose a browser that works for them, be encouraged to set up a website, purchase products from their partners, and learn about what the 'connected consumer' demands.Fuhgettaboutit
Are you kidding me?  If you are having to drag you agents into the 21st century with a class like e-Pro you are not only wasting their time, but it's too late to help someone who needs a 'beginner's guide' to grasping the internet.  Let the dinosaurs sleep.  They have their spheres and past clients and they work off referrals.  This will trickle in the business they need until they expire - don't waste their time and money.  A graduate of e-Pro is no more prepared to succeed as an online Realtor than a 175lb, leather helmeted running back from the 50's is prepared to receive the crushing blow of a 300lb, heavily armored, protein machine, defensive tackle of today.

Here are some actual quotes from their testimonials - I'm not kidding:
   "I am one of the few to have my own web site with my own domain."
   "Email IS going to be the major portion of my contact with customers from now on."

Wow, I'm sold! Sign me up.

2.  The characteristic of the new real estate professional... for some reason they seem to have left out Blogging, SEO, IDX, Link Popularity, Landing Pages, Drip Marketing... need I continue?

3.  One sentence that they could have included that would have prepared their 'graduates' for the fundamental demands of the connected consumer (they are trying to refer to the internet user, or should I say: the population of the USA): Online leads will take anywhere from 6 to 18 months to incubate.  Prepare yourself.  Instead they help you understand that "Consumers are looking for convenience, quality, and solid information to help them make a decision." 

4.  I didn't find what their outline of the components of the technology investment were, but here are mine: After you pay for the laptop, software, Treo, GPS, website, blog, and IDX, don't forget to commit at least 40% of your marketing spend to attracting leads through pay-per-click, SEO, drip marketing, consulting, lead providers etc. 

5.  Who the heck is discussing Listserv?  I'm sure your graduates are excited to have you cramming your partners' service down their throats.

Don't waste your time collecting this nifty technology designation; no one cares.  And, if they really knew what you were learning to become an e-Pro, and were looking to work with someone qualified to master using the Internet as a marketing tool, I'd expect that they would want to work with someone else.

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Comments

On the other hand, I had huge fun beating them up in the homework. I pointed out that, for marketers intent on improving, harsh criticism is much more valuable than insincere praise. Still waiting for the big "Thank You" I've earned...

That just goes to show that the old guard is still in charge at NAR.

I'm still waiting for some serious consideration to be given to the fact that there are quite a few of us commercial Realtors out there being spoon-fed residential tips every time the Realtor organization rolls anything out (at least here in Virginia). I realize that the vast majority of Realtors out there specialize in residential, but come on.

Love it, love it, love it! Snarky as can be! Too bad the "old guard" and the '50's running backs will never read this because they don't even know what a blog is! I wish they WOULD read it so no one would take the e-PRO course! Regrettably that's not the case and there are more agents using e-PRO as a portal to learn about technology.

Hmmmm. A year ago I'd never read a blog and now I've found your illustrious journal! Hmmm. A year ago I didn't have a website worth beans and now I at least own a domain or two and have some content out there. Google . . . they dumped me when they did their new algorithms. Hmmmm. A year ago I didn't know what SEO, IDX, WYSIWYG, "Who Is", domain vs. e-mail vs. website hosting, html, java, WIKI, RSS feed, color numbers, etc., were. Hmmm. A year ago I'd never heard of Sellsius, Curbed, blog directories, BloggerCon IV, listserv (Gee, isn't that misspelled?), Rain City Guide, ROTFLMAO, WIIFM, virtual tours, etc. Hmmmm. A year ago I finished my tin badge. Hmmmm. Two months ago my adult son who is a techie guru in a large international company asked me, "Where'd you learn that?" in a tech conversation. Hmmmm.

I hope every agent that has not taken e-PRO listens to your advice. The e-PRO intro I was given could have been a waste of money AND time. What the heck?

Since I wasn't raised with a technological background like the younger generation, I had to learn from scratch. A new language, new codes, new problem solving. I needed something to expose me to all that was available in the world. E-mail - - - I already did that and didn't need to learn how. But, could I take a word document and translate it into an Excel document to create a mailing list for mail merge to e-mail? Could I "find and replace"? Could I figure out how to get IDX on my website from my broker's site by framing it? Could I frame each of my hyperlinks? Could I change font colors? Could I copy the source code from someone else's blog and move it into a hidden webpage and play around with it to see what I could create from the code? Not on your life. I don't pretend to be an expert but I have been equipped to do what you learned over a life time. I had to learn it in one year!

Mock the tin badge and the FREE listserv all you want. The 20/80 rule applies to both. 80% of the people will take the course and wear the tin badge as an empty shield. Thank goodness, because that leaves that much more room for the 20% of us to expand and take over!

Shhhh. . . Don't tell. I'm an e-PRO!

I work with a few ePro's. And most of them are VERY far beyond what they "learned" in their cert course. I realize it's probably because my sphere is more technologically adept than the norm. However, I do agree that there seems to be a lot missing from the course.

"40% of your marketing spend to attracting leads"
I've found that Internet marketing yields a much higher ROI. Over time, people will need to shift their spending. One of my clients (an ePro) earned 33% of income come from Internet leads. Yet Internet marketing accounted for only 1% of their total budget (10% of marketing). They were in the stated 40% range for only about 6 months.

Jeez, Mr. Tomato, if you took the e-PRO class you might know something about uncloaking that URL! I can't send a Permalink to your post!

--- FFT, site was cloaked for the day, as I was experimenting with some Joombla integrations and other fun stuff. You can't tell me a simple right-click "copy shortcut/copy link location" was beyond you.

I love the look of the http://www.epronar.com/. I just threw up in my mouth a bit... sorry. Yes, it does have PR of 5 but it does not even look professional. Looks are important. A good balance of looks and SEO will take you far. If you want to be taken seriously then have a serious looking site!

I took the e-pro course and did benefit from it. The missing piece for me had been how to put the technology together to win business. I got my first email account in 1989 and built my first web site in 1996. This is all really old stuff for me as is reading news feeds. My dad who is almost 80 has had a blog since 2001. None of this stuff is a big deal but generating revenue by using it is.
Heck most of my clients can't spell RSS feed anyway and have no idea what a podcast is.
Nice blog! I like it and I like your ideas. I teach a class for REALTORS and cover many of the topics I see on your blog. I don't like to see REALTORS ripped off by tech vendors and real estate companies so I started doing something about it. It is free to participants and is not sponsored by any vendor. I don't sell anything except ideas. If you are ever in St. Paul, I would like to buy you a drink and we can talk about how and why pay-per-click ads and drip email are no longer cutting edge.

I was going to take my e-pro class and get it over with, but to this day I haven't. It's unlikely that I will either now.

However, while it may not work for me and many others here on this site I have had Members of my Association tell me that they have liked the course and that it was helpful to them.

See I interact with other Realtors far more than anyone should have to with my service to them as President of my local Association. I can tell you that a great many fellow Members simply are overwhelmed with many aspects of this business. There's no way I'd expect even half the Members to have their own blog -- or even define what a blog is.

Heck, I'm not that bad with the whole computer thing and I my head spins from something others are talking about on real estate weblogs concerning technology (thanks mostly to Greg Swann, but that is a good thing).

E-pro is not for everyone. I doubt it's for many of the commenters of this site. It does serve a purpose in the minds of many that I know that have taken the course. My gut feeling says that many around here should authoring some courses (for CE credit) for the e-pro grads and other Members that want a ticket on the informational web 2.0 express. I know its crossed my mind a time or two because I sign the checks for GRI instructors and think -- yeah I could do that.

And if you really want a new guard at NAR, start by getting involved at your local level. I'm very much "new guard" at my local (and it clearly burns many of the old guard brokers). The pay sucks for as heavily involved as I am, but it's the price one would have to pay if one really wants to see the changes one wants to see.

I beg to differ. While I CANNOT even BE an e-Pro, because I am not currently a member of NAR for reasons you and I can probably agree on, it is clearly NOT TOO LATE for those who need an e-Pro course.

Every day new agents join this industry from many different fields. Some used to be in healthcare, some used to be teachers, some used to be all kinds of things like cops and firemen. Many talented people in this industry do not know much about email from their previous careers, and can certainly find value in the e-Pro program.

Everything...EVERYTHING, I know about technology I learned from these guys and their listserv that you Pooh-Pooh. If you only had a clue.

That YOU don't need it, does not make it irrelevant.

Here's a question for you...Do you think that everyone who has an ABR designation knows how to treat a buyer like a REAL client and negotiate the Buyer Agent Fee with their client? Treat them like a first class citizen? I'd be ranting against the ABR designation before the e-Pro one...but maybe you have done that in another article...send me the link or post it here. I Be Back to check on your ABR designation rant. If you haven't already done one, do one for the Gipper.

I entered this industry at a very young age. And while I knew and was aware of a lot of what technology had to offer, most agents were much older and slower to move on innovations. If it hadn't been for this major boom and investment phase in real estate after the dot com boom, then I believe many MLS's would still by on systems like the lightning dial up system that we used years ago.

The way I see it if one of those agents looks to educate themselves and get a better understanding of how to use technology in today's real estate world, then more power to them.

I don't know anything about the E-Pro course, but if they , like Bonnie Erickson, are getting value from it then it's good they received the education.

"You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself." - Galileo

-rdb.sellsius°

There is a big laugh in all of this, but someone has to be making some money somewhere. At $359 a POP, someone is really cashing in. I haven't taken the course so could not make a trully edified comment. I'm sure there is some information that might make it all worth while, expecially for someone having computer problems, or seeing a computer as a foreign object. I believe the course was created to ease a non-computer-literate Realtor to the internet as an additional source for potential clients. That is a good thing, the more spokes you have on the wheel the better. Diversification of lead sources is always good, expecially in a cooling market.

I don't give e-Pro a two thumbs up, or something that should just be ignored. I think it has to do with where you are, how computer savy you are, and what it will ultimatily do for your business. For someone with ample computer skills, it is probably a waste of time. For someone who has trouble with e-mail, this could possibly be an earth moving moment.

Yes,

I really did enjoy your post on e-pro, how can the NAR certification be that far outdated?

To answer Bernice's question of an advanced version of e-pro...it looks like it might be here at www.Webographers.com? Looks like they'll be teaching heavily on blogging by real estate agents...

Thanks,
Cyndy
ABR,GRI,PME,RECS

The early grads and the beta testers (Epro-500, circa 2000-2001) did get something out of the course. At that time we were the cutting edge, and we still are, your comments are correct for todays technology. What the old guard needs to do is have an EPRO1 and 2 and 3 and so on as technology evolves. who knows what is on the horizon? EPRO does have its place in the big picture, and it is for newbees.

Ohmigod, you have completely hit the nail on the head with this one. There are some people in my office with this horrible designation and they have very, very little technical knowledge. I came from the tech industry into real estate 3.5 years ago and was light years ahead of many of my colleagues and I'm not even technical - I did contract negotiation for the technology, and to companies like Microsoft, no less.

Anyway, I'll tell you though there are some people that could use the education (but not earn a designation for it) and those are the guys that I dealt with in my first year as an agent. I had several phone calls from ticked off long time agents that actually said to me, "DON'T send me email! I only check it once a week or so!" Having been on email for as many years as I had already I was shocked and couldn't fathom how they could continue to do business this way. Thankfully some of them have already moved on.

Finally, the gauntlet has been laid down. I wish I had seen this post when it came out. Now it's a matter of figuring out what an agent ACTUALLY needs to learn and not what it takes to get a tin badge.

You can bet we'll be working on this at Incredible Agent. If anyone wants to help, please let us know.

I have the E-pro designation & do not know how to forward an MLS listing to a customer. I felt that course was money & time NOT well-spent.And I did not sign in because I do not know if I have a TypeKey or TypePad account.

I took the e pro course & have the designation, but learned very little. I still do not know how to email an MLS listing to a prospective customer.Can you help me to find that basic info?

I am very pleased that you are at the level that you can't learn something new. E-PRO was developed to bring as many Realtors as possible to a higher level. You must understand that the average Realtor is about 8 to 10 steps behind the general public. The goal of e-PRO is to raise that bar. Sure we have those as myself that have been working with the internet since it started. The problem is that we have so many that grew up without the internet that are playing catch-up. Let's give these Realtors an opportunity to do this. I have actually seen some people as yourself (with experience) that actually learned something new. I don't care how much you think you know, there is always something new that you can pickup from other people. After the student completes the e-Pro class, that isn't the end of learning. We have constant communication after the course. Take care.

Dr. Eugene R Gibbins

Below is a comment from an agent on Active Rain in an Outlook User Group. This agent is an e-Pro, you gotta love it.

wow.. I'm impressed...I hate to admit it but I'm still using Outlook Express.. but William says he can teach me how to be an Outlook person..

Have a wonderful time at your party today...

09/16/2007 by Manhattan Beach CA/ e-PRO.....

I have to say having a designation that says I can use e-mail seems like having a high school diploma that says I can read. I agree we need an updated course that includes blogging and SEO to mention just a few. - Ashley

I signed up for the E-Pro class months ago and forgot the take it. They reminded me I had a week left to go, so went in and started crunching through the pages. To say it's basic is an understatement. If you can log into a webpage and send an email, you don't need this class. It does not, in any way, prepare anybody to use current technology to get leads and close deals. To make matters worse, the damn E-Pro course site kept freezing up, so it took hours instead of minutes to check out enough pages to realize that there was no meat there. My advice: If you're thinking about popping for $300+ to take the E-Pro because you're not tech savvy, take $50 instead to a local bookstore and buy some "...For Idiots" book that gets to the heart of things. E-Pro is E-Boondoggle, as far as I'm concerned.

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