I am a lucky man. There are many reasons I am a lucky man: my wife, my kids and my friends. I do not have (or want) many friends, but the ones I have are the best. One of them I have known for 30 years (he will argue that it is 29 years, but who is really counting). Another one, Dan, I have only known for 4 and in spite of not having enough time to hang out with him, I still consider him a close friend. He is a real estate agent and a darn good one. What makes Dan such a good agent is his honesty and dedication. He really made the process easy for us. He is great. But this post is not about Dan, but on how traditional industries can benefit from the Internet and interactive media and marketing.
As I read different blog posts and surf the web I have found web sites whose intent is to replace the real estate professional. I am not going to argue the pros and cons of those sites, or whether overall it is a good idea. I will state that, in my opinion, it is a fantastic idea. Yes, it does take business away from my dear friend, and in all honesty, I am concerned for him; but it is a good idea nonetheless and I think that he will not be as affected as others that are not as good as he is. Nevertheless, as I find these sites I send them to him. I want to raise his awareness to the new economy and since he is very entrepreneurial, it might spark an idea, or two.
Sometime ago he asked me if I thought that going through a house with a video camera showcasing the property and then posting it in YouTube was a good idea. He wanted to do it in the format of a TV show. I thought it was a great idea, but it needed a platform to showcase the videos – it has been done before to some level of success but before YouTube. In other words, do not expect people to go to YouTube to find houses for sale. My advice was to start a blog, or some other interactive avenue, and with it, start doing some interactive marketing. He sends a newsletter once a month, he should do an electronic newsletter as well, driving traffic to his blog. I explained to him about the advantages of interactive marketing through a blog and what content he needed and how it needed to be shown. I am not sure what Dan did with the information I passed along to him, but he knows I am here to help should he need it.
Regarding the sites, in the end, you need to make a choice. Should you use an agent or should you use these websites? My choice is to work with Dan. I am indeed lucky.
But real estate in not the only industry that can benefit from interactive marketing. One day I was helping Andy, the owner of the wine shop I am more than just fond of, set up a blog and a new interactive marketing strategy. Since the shop has a wine bar, every so often I go to hang out there and write on my blog (my goodness, which one of the posts are wine induced?) while I have some wine and cheese and the best panninis in the world. That day, as I was furiously typing my post, Andy approached me and asked me what was I doing. I have been sending Andy my weekly “Sunday Emails” that some of you get as well; so it was easy to explain to him what I was doing. He, from time to time, visits my photo galleries.
As I was explaining to Andy about blogging and the potential benefits, business models and ancillary revenue that a blog can bring, it occurred to me – well … it had occurred to me several times before – that he can do something similar to what I was proposing to Dan, just different content. I ended up setting up a blog for the shop and showed Andy how to edit and add content.
I know that this post sounds like I am trying to sell blogging as a business platform. Well … it absolutely is a business platform, or it could be if used in such way. For me, it is a way to share my ideas, but as it turns out, it is also a self marketing and self promoting platform. But that is not the focus of this post. The focus is on the value of the Internet for traditional industries. For traditional I mostly mean “mom & pop” shops. “In the Internet you can be a dog and nobody will know.”
The Internet and the Web, in particular, have hardly realized their potential. Viva capitalism!! It is amazing how you can have Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, even Facebook next to TechCrunch or this blog or a site that provides style sheets for MySpace – which by the way, is run by a 16 year old and generates over $7M in annual revenues with little cost behind it. Yes, monetarily speaking, completely different orders of magnitude; but because of the differences in magnitude, the contrast is so amazing. “On the Internet you can be a dog and nobody will know.” Indeed. The Internet has democratized capitalism even further.
One of the tenets of capitalism is mobility. People will move up the ladder while others move down. And some are stuck somewhere in the middle. The Internet has added more fluidity to this mobility by creating a new and additional economy and with it, new opportunities and new wealth. In this new economy “you can be a dog and nobody will know.” You can be anywhere, you do not need sophisticated equipment and you can make a more than handsome living.
What makes the new economy interesting is the fact that it is new. It can be contended that it is not new at all, and just an evolution of the standard economic development of a society. I would not disagree with statements hinting to that; however, I like to think in terms of turning a page in a book. The book it is still there, and so is the story, but as you turn the page, the anticipation and the discovery of a new fork in the story becomes very exiting. The new economy is about discovering new economic avenues, new ventures, new ideas, new markets. We are boldly going where no man has gone before and we are blazing new trails. Innovation fuels the new economy.
Back to Dan and Andy. They can both benefit beyond their current opportunities from an interactive marketing and content strategy. Dan’s video idea is really good, but needs to be hosted and presented well and some effort needs to go not only into traffic but into content. For example, Dan can give the hot tip of the day, week or month. He can document and communicate best practices for selecting a home, for buying it, for selling it; maybe some business tips for aspiring real estate entrepreneurs; funding a loan or getting a mortgage. The sky is the limit.
And Andy has the same opportunity. He can do a product catalog with a description of each item. How it drinks; when it is best to drink; tips on preserving wine; on how to taste wine; how to select wines. The content can be around new arrivals or good deals. He can have a once a week video talking about the upcoming wine tasting. He can even add a shopping cart and allow people to order from their homes. Again, the sky is the limit. And what makes it all possible is a simple turning of a page in the development of the human system.
So … the Internet is changing real estate, is changing how we drink wine and … the Internet will make it so dogs will run the economy.
And … I am definitely a lucky man!!