Realtors: How many sales is your website costing you?

If you’ve had the opportunity to work with Millennials  – those born from the early 1980s to 2000 – you know they expect all things technical to work all the time. They came of age in the digital world. They’re a  social generation with Face Book, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ wired into their brains.

Millennials are now 80 million strong; they’re excited about the future and they study the world at large through their smart phones.

Not only that, Millennials are teaching their parents how to thrive in the digital age. If your website isn’t up to snuff, you will most likely be ignored in favor of someone who has a fast loading, mobile friendly, informative site.

As house hunters, Millennials will have at least three apps downloaded on their smart phone that help them locate houses they might want to buy. If their parents are the buyers, the Millennial will no doubt be in the car with Mom and Dad, giving directions from a Google map showing all the available listings in the area. Mom and Dad love it! At any given time, you can have two generations hooked into your MLS via a smart phone.

So, what happens when they get to your listing? They take a picture of the house and one of your sign with their phone, then move on to the next listing.

Is your sign visible? Does it have  your website address? If not, you may as well have a kindergarten student make up a sign for you; Millennials probably won’t call you. They don’t want to waste time tracking you down instead of doing other things like complaining about not being able to find you online to their Face Book friends.

By lunch time, they might be down the street from your office eating burgers and fries while checking out the Realtor websites for each listing they’re interested in. What are they going to see?

Millennials social orientation makes it important to them that they know as much as possible about you.

Everybody in their world has more than one public profile, has selfies  posted online and is constantly updating their activities.

For example, does your website have a page titled something like, *FREE BUYER REPRESENTATION* that explains how you, as their exclusive agent, can show them any listing in the MLS free of charge? There are still house hunters from all generations who don’t know that buyers agents get paid by the sellers.

Millennials like to multi-task. They can have the mortgage payment computed for several properties and have analyzed the MLS listings long before reaching out to you.

While a smart phone carrying buyer doesn’t need a Realtor to find properties on the market, they do need one to get inside the homes they locate. Most important, buyers need Realtors to help them through all the details of contracts, negotiation, escrow and inspections.

The question is: what makes them decide to trust you with their investment?

I recently reviewed two dozen Realtor websites. I could not find one single About page that gave me an in-depth, personalized profile of the Realtor. In fact most were simply generic.

In writing about people the past few years, the one thing that struck me most in all my interviews is that people don’t sell themselves very well. Most folks are a shy about their accomplishments.

There’s magic in every one of us.

A skilled writer can highlight that personal brand of magic, set you apart from the competition and convince people to contact you.

For more on Millennials as a market group, please read the PEW Research paper here: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/03/07/millennials-in-adulthood/

Please contact me If I can help with your website content: writersusannah@gmail.com

(photo compliments of BankRate.com)

A Dear John Letter to HR

 Dear HR,

I’m truly sorry to be writing this to you; really I am, but you’ve left me no choice.

As you are so fond of saying, *You’re just not a good fit.*

Here’s my story:

After I’d finished typing up applications for the content writing jobs you sent me, I saw that my resume was so chewed up it was unrecognizable. I was told by your proof reader that I needed to change mine a bit to get it past ATS. He wanted $50 to improve my resume. So, I paid him.

I thought ATS was one of the bosses. The night I found out that ATS stands for a computer program called, the Applicant Tracking System, and that you don’t even read resumes before stuffing them into that system, I drank half a bottle of wine and then cried myself to sleep.Dear John image

Why did you keep pitching me writing jobs where there was no salary stated? You knew that the pay rate would turn out to be less than 5c a word. It took an hour of my time to formulate a cover letter specific to each job and then sort through and attach appropriate links to my work. You’re the big shot in hiring. Why don’t you tell people they must post salaries? I’d rather clean houses than accept those stupidly insulting rates. (I have cleaned houses to keep myself in wine and chocolate while writing a novel.)

In retrospect, I think you were using me to meet your target number of applications for the week.

How could you be so dishonest, HR?

More to the point, did your ATS chew up my cover letters like it did my resume. What the heck did those employers get? There could be a dozen marketing directors out there who think I’m an illiterate nutjob.

Why do you and your friends insist on qualifications like a BA, and in some cases an MA, in journalism or literature for a content writer? You would probably throw out an application from Steinbeck or Hemingway because they didn’t finish their degrees. Have you even bothered to read the work of any writers who applied to you?

Using a computer to do 90% of your job is just plain lazy HR.

Has it occurred to you that I’m not the only writer who’s fed up? In the process of shredding the hopes and dreams of creative people, you’ve done a terrible disservice to your employers. Your job is to help a company get people who can write good content for their website, blog, emails, brochures and advertising.

We writers are not people you can plug into a computer system. Writers are round pegs and you only have square holes. We are individuals who have the exceptional ability to speak through our writing to a client’s customers. We care. When you’re able to differentiate between good writing and bad writing, you’ll know who we are.

You don’t write much, do you HR?

But then, you don’t really have to care about the company customer. You find out that your hire didn’t work out after a year or so when sales statistics show that the writing done by your guy/gal is crap. (See Doug Kessler on Crap Content.) That’s when you add another idiotic qualification to your job posting instead of understanding what good content writing really is.

*The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug,* Mark Twain.

I am going to keep writing my blog and in the future, I plan to ignore you completely. I’ll do what some of my writer friends have done – go directly to the bosses. It’s the business owners and the corporate CEOs who value their customers enough to know what it costs to lose them through bad content.

You almost cost me my self-respect, but after a few kudos from some real readers, I’m plunging forward again…without you.

Truly,

Eliza Lippschitts

(Images compliments of FreeDigitalPhoto.net)

Contact Susannah: writersusannah@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Has Your Mind Been Hijacked?

Have you noticed that some opinions become common rather quickly? While interviewing different people, I’ve listened to one person citing a thing as being bad and then a stranger to the first person, in a completely different walk of life and educational level, spouts the exact same words on the subject.

The source of those opinions might be traced back to a well-engineered Public Relations campaign.

Simply put, Public Relations (PR) is a battle for your mind, fought in the public arena using armies of media ads, films, front groups, public speakers, cell phone texts and mail that gets you to buy something, be it laundry soap, beer, or a President.

The precursor to a good PR campaign is data collection, known as Data Mining, which regularly finds out almost everything about people like us who use cell phones, email, or post on public sites and buy groceries with a credit or debit card. Facebook, as one example, posts ads on your page that have been geared specifically to your interests.

Data mining is defined on Investopedia.com as, “A process used by companies to turn raw data into useful information. By using software to look for patterns in large batches of data, businesses can learn more about their customers and develop more effective marketing strategies…”

In other words, data miners take millions of consumer purchases of beer, chips or soft drinks, for instance, and analyze the data for patterns. Do people buy one bottle or two; a case of 12 colas or 6, three bags of chips or one, what day of the week do they buy the most, is it women or men, what age groups? If it turns out that the majority of women under 30 buy chips on Saturdays, the supermarket can start a campaign to attract young women to other products in the chips aisle on Saturdays.

The PR coup of our time was the brain child of P.R man, David Axelrod. His campaign got Barack Obama elected to the United States Presidency.

Axelrod needed a candidate that looked good, was a good talker, and was appealing to young voters. Enter Obama, a hip young community organizer from Chicago with a Harvard law degree. First, an Axelrod and company P.R. campaign won Obama a seat in the US Senate and then, barely eight months later, Obama entered the 2008 Presidential race.

At that time in 2008, David Axelrod had been plotting wins for politicians since 1985. He specialized in crusades to bend public opinion to the will of his clients. He’s famous for a technique called “Astroturfing,” – a stealth marketing campaign that falsely makes it look like something or someone is widely accepted through a spontaneous grass roots action – hence the name Astroturf, or fake grass.

Front groups are formed to protest or rally in favor of whatever the client wants. If there’s a fight to ban dogs from city parks and a P.R firm is in charge, there could be a group called something like, “Citizens Against Pets in Parks,” protesting loudly in front of TV cameras on the steps of City Hall.

Journalist, Sharyl Attiksson describes astroturfing in her recent speech at the University of Nevada:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bYAQ-ZZtEU Bravo Sharyl!

Axelrod created and staged venues, and paid rock bands to play free public concerts. In Germany, Raemonn and reggae singer Patrice, two of Europe’s top names at the time, performed before Obama spoke. Two hundred thousand people turned out. While it looked to some like an imitation of President John F. Kennedy’s famous Berlin speech; it got international press coverage. In the US, Bruce Springsteen tickets can run hundreds of dollars, but for Obama, his shows were free.

Here’s a formula for a PR campaign geared to change minds:

  1. Define the goal. (Sell a million widgets, get a politician elected.)

  2. Do thorough surveys of public opinion, broken down into demographically similar groups, to get the words that bring forth emotion on a subject, also known as, “Button Words.”

From ASGK, a David Axelrod company web site: “Commission solid, thorough research to gauge public opinion on specific issues and test potential messages with targeted audiences.”

  1. Concoct the message to push those buttons. (Example: In the 2008 recession where a large percentage of the working population were unemployed or underemployed, and thousands of jobs were being lost monthly, “Hope and Change,” Axelrod’s button words for the Obama Presidential campaign won the day.

  2. Select an acceptable candidate or spokesperson to deliver your message.

  3. Approach every possible press and media contact to support your campaign.

David Axelrod’s media connections go back decades from the 1970s when he was a political reporter for the Chicago Tribune. From ASKG, an Axelrod company’s website: “Our team knows how to draw the right media attention for clients through unique events and background briefing with influential journalists, creating opportunities for media coverage around our clients’ key issues and campaign messages.”

  1. Now comes the interesting part; manipulate the press and media to get the message out. A good campaign needs to encompass these things: Controversy, Big names, Money, and an Attack on someone or something. While not always necessary, Sex will send it viral.

From the ASKG website: “Our job is to activate the messages of our clients through immersive campaigns that shape public debate and influence policy.”

  1. Give the potential buyers something for nothing to make your guy or thing the good one. (Free rock concerts did the job in the Obama campaign.)

David Axelrod is now retired but his company carries on. Today, numerous PR firms engage in changing public opinion, yours and mine, to sell a product or elect a public official. ASGK boasts of clients including, Allstate, at&t, Cargill, Citi bank, Ticketmaster, General Dynamics, the US Olympics, and Zerox, to name a few.

The next time you read an article, or watch ads on TV, see if you can spot the agenda – what are they trying to get you to believe? Are certain button words repeated? Did you have your mind made up against something, only to wake up one morning to find yourself in favor of that very thing? What influenced you?

It doesn’t matter what your politics are; it does matter that you know when and how someone is trying to hijack your mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

L.A. Law

*The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.* – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Some people think that lawyers have no soul because they appear emotionless, without empathy, as though a person’s loss or impending doom is irrelevant. The really good ones train themselves to focus entirely on the legal points in any given case, burying their true selves behind a wall of written law in their offices and the court room, to emerge as loving Dad or Sweetheart only at home.

Charles Parselle is an exemplary lawyer. The epitome of a gentleman, he’s well dressed in an upscale L.A. with a hint of Savile Row kind of way, polite, attentive, and a charming conversationalist. With a dab of self-effacing humor, he can make you feel comfortable enough to share confidences.  Perhaps it’s his soft spoken manner and upper crust English accent, but you find yourself wondering what the heck he’s doing in Los Angeles amongst a multitude of loud-mouthed legal sharks.

No shrinking violet, Parselle has volunteered for a one night stand as a comic at the famous Comedy Store and gamely hosted a couple of Piers Morgan – type talk shows that failed to get off the ground. From his legal background, Parselle appears to have developed attributes that Morgan lacks; he listens and understands, his comments are unbiased and lacking any personal agenda,  and he does not talk down to his guests.

Educated at the prestigious Oxford University in England, Charles Parselle, Esq., has credentials spanning the globe with decades of successful cases. He’s been a Barrister-at-law in England, Judge pro tem in the Los Angeles Superior Court, a practicing attorney in California since 1983 and has been a member of Bar Associations from Italy to Beverly Hills.

Since the year 2000, he has been the Mediator of various local and international disputes with millions of dollars at stake, lectured on mediation at the Institute for Conflict Management in Santa Monica, CA and authored a book titled, The Complete Mediator. Married to the lovely and feisty activist, Charlotte Law, who has recently been leading the  crusade to outlaw revenge pornography, Charles is now in his 70s and looking forward to retirement.

He says, “Quite simply, Mediation is the settlement of disputes.”

Charles Parselle Esq.
Charles Parselle Esq.

And Parselle writes, “Why does conflict persist? This is like asking: where does love go? It touches the human condition near the core, a place where great thinkers give gloomy answers…Personal and historical experience tells us the conflict does indeed persist…Questioning our persistent tendency to beat up on each other, two qualities stand out as integral – entanglement and identity. We live entangled lives yet we strive for personal identity. Our entanglements threaten our sense of ourselves. Conflicts are about entanglements gone wrong. “

In an article titled, Negotiation and Death, Parselle compares the five stages of grief made famous by psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book, On Death and Dying, to the process people go through during mediation.

Dr. Kubler-Ross changed the way many think about death. Her theory that grieving has five stages was born out of her work with terminally ill patients.

Parselle writes, “A successful mediation is both death and rebirth, as the mediator facilitates the disputants through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining and depression to acceptance.  Acceptance means closure; usually it’s a good feeling.

“Life prepares us for death in many ways; entanglement in conflict is one such way. Kubler-Ross shows us the sequence that accompanies the knowledge of imminent death – a dying person needs help at such a time. Every negotiation is a petit mort (small death); a chance also for growth – disputants need help at such a time. This is what mediators do.”

While he says that wife Charlotte does not want to leave her work, her dogs and yes, her chickens, Charles intends to travel to London, England and Budapest this summer. If you want Charles Parselle to mediate your dispute, he may or may not accommodate you. In any event, he can and will refer you to a mediator whom he considers worthy of you.

Read more about mediation on the Parselle Mediation web site:

http://www.parsellemediation.com/Parselle_Mediation.html

(law library photo compliments of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I’m always happy to talk to you. Please contact me using the form below.

 

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