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How Giving Away Trade Secrets Makes For A Successful Blog

I received an unexpected response the day* I decided to start telling everyone I knew that I had started the Real Estate Tomato.  Most people ignored the announcement.... but I expected that. 

What wasn't expected was that a colleague of mine that has also been making a living as a marketing consultant for real estate professionals, called me to tell me that I was making a big mistake with this new blog.  In fact, he was very concerned; feeling that I was giving away trade secrets that I should reserve for leveraging the sale of websites. 

He said that we need to keep this knowledge close to us, this way we still have value to those whom we are pitching our wares.  Revealing our insight for free, on a silver platter, would make our wisdom common knowledge, and therefore less effective when closing a deal.

This got me thinking. If I publish everything I can as a guideline to success for the online real estate agent, will it put me at risk of disintermediation?

Will I be needed after I have said what I know when it comes to helping others?

The obvious is that I chose to ignore his concern.

Here's how I see it. 
What I choose to write about is not a secret, nor outside of experience. Some of it I have been trying to share as often as possible, some of it came to me yesterday.
If I am going to make the bold and assumptive suggestion that I am a consultant, here to educate, then running out of relevant topic articles is not an option.  Look for me to be here for a while.

I've been told that it doesn't matter whether the audience is in person or there to read, no more than 4% will put good advice into action.  Groups will nod in agreement, but it is only the inspired individual that will apply.  That leaves a large percentage that still need the personal consulting and guidance to take advantage of the advice and knowledge they feel that they need. 

What I'm getting at applies to all of us that look to use the business blog as a tool for generating clients through the exposure of one's expertise, savvy and commitment.  The blog that educates your target audience is more likely to incubate future business through the appreciation of the knowledge you offer than to provide an enlightened path for readers to move forward without you. 

In the service and education business we know that we are primarily selling ourselves. The commitment made by regularly presenting the knowledge that you have to offer (given that it is sound) is so much more effective than trying to leverage a similarly branded, static website.  In addition, those that you do happen to inspire to make it happen without your inclusion will more often than not give credit to you for your encouragement and knowledge.  Another great testimonial to the value of the information you offer not only regularly, but for free. 

Sticking your head out above the crowd.  That's what business blogging has felt like for me.  I have worked from home for the past 5 years, looking to communicate with and educate as many Realtors as possible on the effectiveness of using the internet as a marketing tool.  One-at-a-time was as good as I could ask for, unless I had a speaking engagement (which entails leaving home). 

Business blogging allows me to reach 1000's of Realtors daily, and tens of thousands monthly.  My message is no longer in the vacuum of one-on-one consulting, but rather exposed to an audience not unlike those I would normally need to leave the house to engage.  Realtors spend their days answering questions and educating their clients on the process of executing the most valuable financial investment of their lives.  As much as the one-on-one effort is appreciated and necessary, the opportunity to share the benefit among an audience of many will create an obvious benefit.

Today's article was actually inspired by a conversation I had with a new client: Marc Brinitzer from Big Valley Mortgage. He was looking for my response to the concern that others could take his ideas and tactics, and in turn use them for their own benefit... essentially empowering his competition.  I could only speak from my own experience when it comes to sharing what could be seen as trade secrets.  The originality of the ideas I have to share here varies from original to blatant rip-off.  Nonetheless, for many of you, much of it is unique and informative, and for that, I am given credit.  I see this as one of the greatest benefits of business blogging. 

Become a resource for information that is informative and desired and your blogging will not only help you establish a reputation as valuable, but work towards the development of future clients.  This to me outweighs the risk of my competition taking the ideas in my blogging articles and using them for their own success. 

There really is nothing new under the sun, and as the internet creates an ever more transparent landscape of information, it would be foolish to expect that we are the only one's offering information on such a service related industry. 

I owe a large amount of inspiration and guidance to two well known business bloggers making a living revealing their trade secrets:

I owe my desire to write with clarity and prose (a struggle in every sentence) to a well respected real estate blogger that never hesitates to tell it like it is:

I owe the majority of my blogging advice articles to my clients' and prospects' questions that need to be aired for all.
I owe my commitment to regular blogging (another struggle, this one for time) to my ever growing audience, who look for nuggets of knowledge to keep them coming back.

*This was months ago (footnote from above)

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In my profession - QuickBooks Advisors - we often receive phone calls/requests for "one quick question". As experts, my colleagues and I often feel compelled to divulge the answer, because it's "easier" to just answer the question, and a "two-minute answer" is even harder to bill for. At every QB Advisor conference, we all sigh (at our 12 hour days) and depart in agreement that "it's for the greater good". But, I find myself wondering, would Donald Trump or Anthony Robbins agree? Certainly, my family (and bank account) would dis-agree, but how and where do we draw the line in the sand?

Sharing information only serves to educate the motivated agents who want to improve and become more successful and professional. There is always a certain percentage of people in any industry who are motivated to succeed, and it is irrelevant whether they are getting new information online or as in the old days (ahem, how would I know this??) shadowing an experienced agent either with or without their permission. As far as the general public goes, we realtors have always dealt with them - the ones who are clueless, the ones with a little dangerous information, and the ones who are savy, experienced real estate devotees. Bring on the info, and let's all become all we can be!

You can offer practically any kind of service using the internet. You just have to make sure there is a market for it and that you can actually fulfill job orders. Some of the most common internet jobs involve clerical jobs such data entry, performing tasks as a virtual assistant, web development, word processing, telemarketing, book keeping and others. You can work as a copy writer, be a sales representative or even become a pro-blogger. You can set up a business that targets clients in your own town or people halfway around the globe.

Thanks, John

By the popularity of this blog it seems you have been a success in what you were trting to do. Sometimes when you give something away in the begining the dividends it pays in the long term far surpass what you passed up in the short term.

This is true in real estate in general. I've found that when you provide quality information to your clients, they're not going to go behind your back and use it themselves. They're going to come back to you as someone they trust. Someone that knows what they're doing, and is there to help, not just make a quick buck. When you hold your knowledge close to your chest, people feel like they're just a dollar sign to you, and usually move on as quickly as they can.

Thanks for the great post!

I believe that the most successful people share and enjoy sharing their knowledge. There will always be new information and areas to grow. Certain people will learn the info and grow sooner than others. I believe this is partially driven by their natural curiosity and/or desire to try new things and do some of the old things differently.

It was a brilliant reading! Thank you. Tomas

I have looked over your blog a few times and I love it. Very helpful. Tomas

This is interesting... I say you have to teach (or consult) by example.

The advise you give here is credible because you are using it yourself first.

If I hired you as a consultant and you started tell me to giving away trade secrets while you were hoarding your own you would lose my trust.

Seeing the great information you provide keeps me interested in your company, coming back, and waiting for the day when I need more and will pay for it.

That is exactly the process I want my customers to go through - so you are teaching by example. And gaining my respect and trust in the process - that is a valuable commodity.

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