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August 30, 2006: Who Let's Them Print This?
Comments: 5 | Categories: Marketing Solutions , Topics and Opinions
Internet Crusade has yet again earned the award for Over Setting the Expectations of Their Unwitting Followers. First it was the reckless statement that their internet foundations class called e-Pro is the guiding light to "Thrive in the Competitive World Of Online Real Estate." Now they think that they have the keys to "Mastering the Blogosphere." Excuse me while I wipe up the coffee I just spit up all over my desk. I swear I don't have a vendetta with Internet Crusade. When I keep coming across them making foolish and irresponsible claims, I just can't seem to contain myself. Here is the article in full as it appeared in Realtor Magazine Online, yesterday: My comments are indentend and appear in blue. 10 Steps to Mastering the Blogosphere Blogs are online journals that give everyone the opportunity to be a writer and publisher. Real estate practitioners use the medium to...

August 29, 2006: What's Missing In Your Real Estate Website?
Comments: 4 | Categories: Interviews , Marketing Solutions , Products and Services , Topics and Opinions
Yesterday, Rory Siems (esteemed member of ActiveRain) and I struggled through the composition of a recorded phone interview using Skype and Audacity. Rory was interviewing me, and he and I can agree that there has to be an easier way given that it is 2006 and all. Today's article is about another topic that came up in Rory's interview with me, but before I get to it, I want to see if the audience has some suggestions on how to go about recording a phone conversation on Skype, with the intention of editing and podcasting it. Thanks for any input. In the interview, Rory asked me: "Is there something that clients want from a Realtor website that agents aren't yet providing?" Understand that I am not stealing the thunder of his podcast/article of our interview. The response to his question was left hanging a bit... and I've been thinking about...

August 28, 2006: Attention Realtors, Lenders, Appraisers, Stagers, Coaches, Inspectors, Title Reps etc
Comments: 0 | Categories: Announcements
The Real Estate Tomato is looking for examples of your success through blogging. We will be holding a Carnival of Blogging Success - available to ActiveRain members only. ActiveRain is a quickly expanding viral network for professionals in the real estate industry. They boast thousands of members in just their first few months. The level of participation among its members is impressive and exemplifies the eagerness and appetite of the real estate community's to embrace this wave of collaboration. To join (it's free) and to participate in this exclusive Carnival, visit the site. To learn more, straight from their CEO, read the interview Matt Heaton was kind enough to give us last week, here at the Tomato. What's a Carnival? Wikipedia defines a Blog Carnival as: A blog article that contains links to other articles covering a specific topic. Most blog carnivals are hosted by a rotating list of frequent...

August 26, 2006: Don’t Be The Ignored Real Estate Blog, How to Avoid The Starbucks Mistake
Comments: 12 | Categories: Blog Marketing , Marketing Solutions
Is it safe to assume that you've have been to a Starbucks, and are familiar with the ubiquitous white cup with the round, green logo on it? Somewhere on that cup is their web address: www.Starbucks.com. How many of you have been to Starbucks.com? The response is almost always "none." The scarce few that have are checking the balance on their Starbucks Card. Most have never even noticed the web address on the cup (this is Starbucks' first mistake). It would be a safe bet that less than .01% of their loyal customers have ever been to their website. 1000's of worldwide stores and close to a million white cup holders every day… if I am right, it's a pitiful reality. How many white cups are brought back to work, to be left just inches from a keyboard, and yet, the website remains ignored? You should be thinking to yourself,...

August 25, 2006: One Year Ago Today - Understanding Your Audience
Comments: 4 | Categories: Marketing Solutions
One year ago today I wrote my first blog post. No one ever read it. It was supposed to be the beginnings of a book about real estate emarketing. My intentions have shifted dramatically since that first post, but it seems that my edifying tone was fully intact. So, in an effort to begin again, here's my take on understanding whom it is that you are all marketing to. The unadulterated first post. Understanding Your Audience Arguably the most important element of an effective marketing strategy is understanding how to connect with your potential client. "Calls to Action," "Hot Buttons," and "Target Needs" are all used to describe this active ingredient in a campaign. To pen the perfect 'call to action' and drive traffic to your lead generating website, one must step back and take a look at the internet and the behavior of the internet user. Stepping into the...

August 24, 2006: "Site Unseen" The Backfiring Effect of Duplicate Content
Comments: 1 | Categories: Marketing Solutions
Did you 'borrow' it? Stealing content is unethical, petty and puts your website's success at great risk. The original authors of your 'borrowed' content can (and will) defend their rights: Old Welsh Guy has a great article on how to deal with content purloiners. So that you don't have to try and read in his thick welsh accent, I will 'borrow' a few excerpts: After asking politely, yet firmly to have the content thief remove your content from their website, he recommends you take the following steps: 1. Document every detail of the infringement: exact text, whois information, URL locations of original and stolen content, name servers, and date of notification to violator. 2. Take action by filing a DMCA report with Google and the like. This is a request to have the illegally promoted material removed from their databases. Contact the violator again, explaining that you have taken action...

August 22, 2006: Google Base's Next Move With Real Estate
Comments: 11 | Categories: Internet (Sites and Tools) , Marketing Solutions
If I were a realtor, that just scored a listing, the next thing that I would add to my marketing plan would be to get that listing into Google Base. Google has snuck in their Base real estate listings at the top of their search results whenever you include the words "real estate" with major metropolitan geographical searches. Try it out. Here's San Diego; here's Seattle, here's Sacramento, here's Boston... If you have been taking the time to add your listings to Craigslist. Stop. Sign up for Postlets.com. They will post your listings in Craigslist, GoogleBase and 8 others, for free!. Now you can tell the seller (with a straight face) "I'll have your home at the top of Google."

August 22, 2006: #1 in MSN - Megalomania Realized
Comments: 3 | Categories: Announcements
It only took 69 posts in two months, but the phrase "Jim Cronin" is now pulling the Tomato as #1 in MSN. Finally beat out a professional baseball player, a nobel prize winner, MonkeyWorld founder, jimcronin.com, an actor, and some clown on the mirror project. Google and Yahoo... not so good. Must be that darn Sandbox Effect. On second thought... do I really want the notoriety of the Tomato tied to me?

August 21, 2006: Agents Handcuffed
Comments: 5 | Categories: Topics and Opinions
I have worked with thousands of real estate agents over the last few years, and until just recently I have never felt so compelled to stand up against something that is happening to so many of them working under the iron fist of paranoid brokers. A company, that I shall leave unnamed, is asking (read: demanding) that all its agents adhere to a strict set of guidelines regarding their use of the internet as a marketing tool. This policy will affect more than 1000 unwitting real estate agents in the state of California, and I can imagine that it is not the only example of sheer idiocy based on the fear of potential, yet scant litigation. Here's the deal: The power holders in the company are having all agents sign an agreement regarding the use of a third party website; meaning a website other than that which is provided by...

August 20, 2006: Teresa Boardman Article - Carnival of Blogging Success
Comments: 1 | Categories: Blogging Peers
I guess I would call my self a blogging enthusiast. It is an easy inexpensive way to have a web presence. I started a blog at the end of last year and have actually sold homes to people who found my blog. I call them the people who live inside my computer. I have also networked with and learned from bloggers who live all over the country. A couple of weeks ago I promoted one of my listings on a radio talk show. I got that wonderful opportunity because I built a relationship with a fellow blogger who happened to be the shows host. Blogging really is about relationship building. I got interested in blogs because even though there are zillions of REALTOR and real estate company web sites there is very little content for consumers. People use the internet to search for information, not to look at REALTOR faces...

August 20, 2006: Carnival Submission - Roberta Murphy
Comments: 0 | Categories: Blogging Peers
I am what you might call a RIPE TOMATO who has experienced both boom and bust markets, from Houston to Southern California. I have seen dizzying markets with buyer bidding wars, to markets where sellers offer all their equity and the keys to the Mercedes to unload their real estate burden. What is different this cycle is the existence of the internet and what we affectionately call Web 2.0, which is best exemplified by this unusual and vocal forum at ActiveRain. We are connected; we are community; we are it. Many meaningful messages and solutions are shared in this professional and personal community. We agents ring bells of warning to others and offer solutions to problems others may not yet have encountered. Solutions to struggles and issues are forthcoming with touching generosity. I have not yet received a referral or client contact from this forum, but through ActiveRain I have...

August 19, 2006: SEO Can Be Snake Oil - Part 3
Comments: 0 | Categories: Guest Author , Jason Benesch , Marketing Solutions , Search Engines
The goal of these 3 articles authored by Jason Benesch is to give you an understanding of how search engines work and how you can drastically improve your search engine lead generation without wasting another dime on SEO Snake Oil. Last week Jason helped us looked at how to organize the meta-data and keyword density of our websites to ensure that we're are being 'read' by the search engines most effectively. This week, in his final SEO offering, he will be examining the proper approach to building your link popularity. Thanks again Jason! In this third installment of this Search Engine Tutorial we examine link popularity; why links work, how to acquire links, what and how many links you should have. Links, coupled with unique and growing content define the most important factors to increase your search engine visibility. It should make perfect sense as to why search engines would...

August 19, 2006: Interview With ActiveRain CEO, Matt Heaton
Comments: 2 | Categories: Interviews
Earlier this week, Matt Heaton of ActiveRain was kind enough to provide me with 30 minutes of his time to conduct an interview. I first came across AR (ActiveRian) the day after I started the Tomato. At the time they were in their 5th week and were growing by 18 new members everyday. They now boast nearly 3000 members and a weekly growth rate of btwn 60-75 new members a day. Click here to view a separate interview with Matt and Caleb from the Inman Connect Conference in July. Video provided by Real Estate Buzz Box Here are the highlights of our conversation. Please keep in mind that this was an informal conversation. To maintain the intention and integrity of Matt's response, I mostly used his unedited responses, word for word. RET - So what's the short bio on Matt Heaton? Matt- After graduating with a BS in computer science,...

August 16, 2006: e-Pro is a Tinfoil Badge
Comments: 22 | Categories: Topics and Opinions
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....

August 14, 2006: The 8 P's to Blogging Success
Comments: 13 | Categories: Blog Discipline , Blogging Advice , Marketing Solutions , Real Estate Blogging
I have tried to stick to the following formula since the Real Estate Tomato was launched, less than 2 months ago: Plan, Pay Attention, Post, Participate, Probe, Prepare, Please, Partner It seems to be working. Before I joined the blogosphere, I had as much knowledge about blogging as my mom. Now, after just a few weeks, I have hundreds of daily visitors and appreciative fans from all over the country encouraging and inspiring me to stick with my mission. I know that I personally could use some help with all the elements of this strategy, but I am excited about the success to date. I hope you find them useful. PLAN Blogging is taking over as the 'must do' in real estate internet marketing. If you are going to catch and ride this wave I suggest you have a plan. Plan Your Strategy: Determine if you can make the commitment...

August 14, 2006: SEO Can Be Snake Oil - Part 2
Comments: 2 | Categories: Guest Author , Jason Benesch , Search Engines
The goal of these 3 articles authored by Jason Benesch is to give you an understanding of how search engines work and how you can drastically improve your search engine lead generation without wasting another dime on SEO Snake Oil. Last week, we determined how to select keywords and search phrases with which we will optimize our website. The next step is giving ourselves a proper platform from which to take off. First one must realize that search engines don't see your website the same way we do. Your website is written in what's called, hyper-text markup language (a.k.a. HTML). We have browsers on our computer (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari etc.) that translate the HTML into graphics and readable text. Search engine spiders (or webcrawlers) 'read' the HTML of your site. Javascript and Flash animation are not productive for search engine optimization because spiders can't read it; they can only...

August 10, 2006: A New FSBO MLS
Comments: 0 | Categories: Internet (Sites and Tools)
This week's 'Beta' site is ByOwnerMLS. It boasts on its homepage that it "is a Multiple Listing Service that displays virtually every "For Sale By Owner" property." That claim is a bit bold; a quick search in the Sacramento, CA area pulled a whopping 5 single family properties for sale. On a brighter note they continue: Our Real Estate search engine combines the inventory from multiple For Sale By Owner Listing Services into one searchable database. The listings are uploaded and revised daily, providing you with the most current inventory available. Best of all, its FREE to use and no sign-up is required!" Their database offers search parameters for Homes Condominiums, Town homes, Rentals, Land, Vacation Homes, Time Shares, Multifamily, Commercial and New Construction. An Inman News article quotes Dominic Muttillo, chief operating officer for ByOwnerMLS.com, as stating: "We believe that the for-sale-by-owner industry is one of the most minimally...

August 10, 2006: Your Company Provided Website Is A Waste
Comments: 5 | Categories: Topics and Opinions
First of all, you need to realize that your company provided site, whether it be from Coldwell Banker, Prudential, Keller Williams, John L Scott, Lyon etc. was designed for the benefit of the company, not the agent. Sure, you get all the ubiquitous tools and there's training on how to customize it, but don't fool yourself; your site is just a page within their greater website. Look at these web addresses (without the masking): http://www.johnlscott.com/agentdetail.aspx?ic=1454807 http://camoves.com/agentoffice/agentdetail.aspx?agent=11117&office=102 http://agent.kw.com/view_site.php?associate_id=2189 http://www.prudentialcaliforniare.com/prucal/agentprofile/agent.aspx?AgentID=702135 You can see that the address reveals that this is not a stand alone website, but rather just another number on their site. You can always set up a forwarding domain (www.YourSite.com) but that's just masking the real web address. This distinction is the main reason why your website webpage is a waste. Agent Sites fail in the Search Engines. There are so many reasons why agent sites will never compete in...

August 10, 2006: First Blood
Comments: 0 | Categories: Blogging Peers
If I've said it once, I've said it a million times. I love reading Greg Swann from the BloodhoundBlog. OK, I've only said it once, but I really, really mean it. Following his debunking of Zillow this past week has been as interesting as it has been intelligent. His blogging has given him a loud voice, so loud in fact that Zillow can not ignore it (and has to agree with it). Do yourself a favor, get on the RSS train and put him (and me) in your daily news feed. He's the caffeine in your coffee. Follow Us on Twitter and Get Our Daily Real Estate Blog Tips! If you enjoyed reading this article, why not Subscribe to be notified of the next one?

August 9, 2006: Buying Homes Online - The Video
Comments: 0 | Categories: Internet (Sites and Tools)
I found a great post on the Sellsius Blog today with a link to a news report out of San Francisco regarding using the internet to BUY a home. Take the 2 minutes and 51 seconds to watch this video (below) about how to do just that using a new service called Redfin. The most enticing element of the Redfin service is that the buyer receives 2/3 of what would be the buyers agent commission. The offer is closed by a Redfin agent, hence the 1/3 part. I don't feel that the buyers agent will ever go the way of the travel agent, but I do feel that this service will cater to a certain (if not significant) percentage of home buyers. A recent study by the US Census Bureau presented in the Wall Street Journal states: People in their 20s are more inclined to buy real estate now compared...

August 8, 2006: 13 Ways To Post Your Listings For Free
Comments: 19 | Categories: Internet (Sites and Tools) , Marketing Solutions
Reading Bernice Ross's "RealClues" - The Weekly Newsletter for Real Estate Professionals is a fantastic way to keep abreast of what's working for agents in the marketing world. She has just started a 5 part series regarding the Inman Connect called: Hot Strategies from Real Estate Connect: The Ins and Out of On-Line Lead Generation. This week's article focus's on how to gain maximum exposure for your listings with the least amount of spend. She mentions Postlets as a great source for its all-in-one-effort service. I follow up with a few more, and invite you to chime in with any services you have found useful. Check it out: 1-10 Postlets.com (update: Postlets has competition: VFlyer. And, Postlets lauches PostletsPlus) The first 10 come in a neat little package called Postlets - "free classifieds creation and syndication" Build your online flier once, and have it automatically post to: Backpage.com Craigslist.org Edgeio.com...

August 8, 2006: Top 10 Reasons Realtors Need A Treo
Comments: 4 | Categories: Technology - Gadgets
Treo addicts know what I'm talking about. We've left our laptop, PDA, address book, GPS, iPod, and camera at home. 1. Pocket Real Estate and Pocket MLS Don't leave home without the MLS in the palm of your hand. (Pocket RE links best viewed in Internet Explorer... sorry Firefox) 2. Outlook , Top Producer , ACT & RealtyJuggler Calendars, leads, CRM, memos, tasks... 3. Email, Texting and Instant Messaging Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, Outlook and many others 4. Photo Blogging Tour Listings SplashBlog let's you instantly publish listing images for public viewing (Treo 700 has 1.3 megapixel camera) 5. Electronic Lock Box Access with Supra eKey 6. In-Hand Realty Tools Calculate Monthly Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance, Mortgage Insurance, HOA Fees and Total Payment. Calculate Buyer Prequalification. Calculate Closing Costs Calculate Equity Leverage Calculate Sell Price and Net Proceeds 7. Loan Pro and PZCalc Compare, Contrast, Amortize etc... 8. TomTom GPS...

August 7, 2006: Attention! How Craigslist Makes A Profit
Comments: 7 | Categories: Internet (Sites and Tools)
Forgive the lengthy look of this post, but all parties using Craigslist to advertise their listings, wares and services should make careful note of some changes to the Craigslist Terms Of Use (TOU). A whole new set of T's and C's (20 in fact) show up when you log in to make a post starting this week. The most alarming Term that you must agree to is #19. Consider yourself warned. The below has been copied directly from Craigslist Terms Of Use (version 1.23): 19. VIOLATION OF TERMS AND LIQUIDATED DAMAGES Please report any violations of the TOU, by flagging the posting(s) for review, or by emailing to: abuse@craigslist.org Our failure to act with respect to a breach by you or others does not waive our right to act with respect to subsequent or similar breaches. You understand and agree that, because damages are often difficult to quantify, if it...

August 5, 2006: Catch A Tiger By Its Tail
Comments: 3 | Categories: Topics and Opinions
Yesterday, I noticed some traffic coming from a real estate blog I hadn't seen before: oDotZero. It defines itself as "Commentary on Commercial Real Estate, Marketing & Technology." It seems the reason for the traffic is due to an extensive post written in contention of an earlier Tomato article: If You Write It, They Will Come. In my article, I make the claim that simply blogging (consistently) about the real estate industry will broaden your website's content and therefore improve your reach in the search engines. It is my take that you may just have a better shot at uncovering niche traffic to your site through the search engines than trying to compete for uber-popular keyphrases such as "San Diego Real Estate." Apparently oDotZero doesn't agree: I think Cronin’s ideas are correct at their core, but incorrect as to the application because search behavior isn’t what he describes. And: Cronin’s...

August 5, 2006: SEO Can Be Snake Oil - Part 1
Comments: 2 | Categories: Guest Author , Jason Benesch , Marketing Solutions , Search Engines
So you've all gotten that call: a search engine optimization (SEO) company promising to place your site at the top of the search engines. Many Realtors, seeing the potential opportunity for online leads, have already wasted a lot of money on one (or more) of these services and will never see the results they were expecting or promised. There are a variety of companies with many different strategies, promising to position your site competitively and the majority are illegitimate. The goal of this article is to give you an understanding of how search engines work and how you can drastically improve your search engine lead generation without wasting another dime. Jason Benesch is a Personal Marketing Coach for Z57 Inc. Working one-on-one with dozens of website toting Realtors is his daily grind. I asked him to contribute to the Tomato this week with an article based on his experience with...

August 3, 2006: Google Breaks the 60% Barrier!
Comments: 2 | Categories: Search Engines
The latest numbers are in! Over a 4 week study in July, these are the top 4 search engines used for internet searches: Google: 60% Yahoo: 22.5% MSN: 11.8% Everyone else: 5.5% Looks like all that advertising ASK.com is doing on TV is not really paying off. Hat tip: Guest Author, Steve Peron. Source - HitWise

August 3, 2006: Useful Google Map - Zip Code Boundaries
Comments: 2 | Categories: Internet (Sites and Tools)
Quick post - Chalk it up as another useful item. And just one of a million uses for the Google API. Clear zip code divisions for the whole country mashed up and served on a google cracker. Source: John Coryat Systems Want to try making your own custom Google Map? I know you're not bored... but here's the best Google Map MashUp List I could find... and there's always Platial. Add to: | Technorati | Digg | Yahoo | BlinkList | Spurl | reddit | Furl |

August 2, 2006: CatchUp With SketchUp
Comments: 3 | Categories: Internet (Sites and Tools)
I little piece of my mind was blown today. If you want to know what it feels like check out this demo of Google's next masterpiece, SketchUp. Mike and Rich, two developers of Google SketchUp discuss the usability and usefulness of this revolutionary software and their 3D warehouse. I had looked into Google SketchUp some months ago when the buzz first hit... but found it all too intense to roll up my sleeves and start a project. The above demo, although still a bit intense, is shining some light on just how exciting this program is as it integrates seamlessly with Google Earth. (For those of you who haven't experienced Google Earth, clear you schedule for the rest of the afternoon and zoom in over all your favorite spots on earth. I apologize for wasting the rest of your day.) Just considering all the possible uses the innovative real estate...

August 1, 2006: Slap It On A Map
Comments: 0 | Categories: Web 2.0
Last month, Inman had a special report article for subscribers "Real Estate 2.0, Giddy With Innovation" The article focuses on the latest tech trends in the industry and mapping is all the rage. Although it doesn't have the tidal wave of mind-share that Zillow has created (read: deserves), a more modest site called Platial is offering users a platform for creative mapping. Platial, which coins itself "The People's Atlas," launched in December to enable users to create their own maps and tell their stories by adding context around places that hold meaning for them. For instance, some popular uses have been people citing their favorite restaurants, bars, parks and other places. Online mapping applications have exploded in the past year as more people began creating mashups with Google's mapping API. More real estate professionals are using maps in their property search offerings, creating a more user-friendly experience for consumers looking...

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