Saturday, April 28, 2007

...but Real Life is Really Crazier... we have all seen in past couple of weeks. For those of you who were looking for this blog - I hope you were able to get by without it for a while...but I am back, and not reluctantly.

All our lives lead us to those places where you see the sign even if it isn't posted:

You Are Here.

Not too many places where the past, present and future-uncertain as it is - all come together: Finding yourself in a hospital room, watching a loved one quietly leave this restless and radiant planet. Goodbye, Auntie Treva. We miss you.

Moving water, wind, sun and seeds working against the earth: day by day, hour by hour so slowly we are again amazed by the obvious result. Glowing hues of red, yellow, and blue slashed with green. Spring-finally.

Watching numbly as the same colors flow across the screen: young, bright,growing, promising, running, then falling, then not rising.

...and finally, a small safe place-a bench, a promise to listen and a hug. The picture was inside the paper, but should have been out front: a young woman near a bench and another sign: I will listen. Free hugs. She was hugging a cop.

Embracing where we are makes all the difference.

I gotta go.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Brand Recognition, "Honey, I'm home," and other musings from the road...

...after slouching in the front door yesterday afternoon, raking through the email and finding the laundry room, I passed out on the sofa. This is what I dreamed of:

...of course, nothing is scarier to a real estate-consulting-marketing-guy like me than a room not full of Realtors.

But that wasn't the case Thursday as we stopped in the Wisconsin Dells at the Kalahari Resort, waterpark and convention center. (Us and the 45+ RE/MAX Realtors were the only people wearing long pants at this venue, I think.)

The folks in this central-northwestern part of the state have some awesome lakefront and vacation properties to sell, and RE/MAX is all over it to help them find the right buyer.

In fact, the RE/MAX name is so recognized, as I was standing in the hallway checking voice mails, a gentleman stopped by the table full of RE/MAX literature and started talking to me about the 300+ acres he had in the area and further north and he wanted to sell some land, develop some land, etc.-and was I a RE/MAX agent and could I help him?

(This is one of several times in my life I wished I were a Realtor.)

I told him while I was not working for RE/MAX (well, I guess right then I may have been),

I knew where I could find a RE/MAX agent or two.

I ducked into the conference room and tapped Peter on the shoulder:

(Peter is pretty high up in the RE/MAX ranks-as his uniform shows.) I told him there was someone in the hall asking for a RE/MAX agent. He nodded his head and, and stealthed his way to where Ann Baker of RE/MAX FIRST was in the room:

(Here we see Ann talking to Tia Peterson with RE/MAX Preferred in Madison.)

Needless to say Ann and the rest of the that RE/MAX agency will be working with that man on al of his real estate needs.

This little story points out: MARKETING and BRANDING equals ACHIEVEMENT. ...'nuff said.

The morning flew by and wrapped up pretty quick , but not without:

...Mary LaPanta helping out folks with a few points on LeadStreet.

Thank you, Mary!

Other Musings:

-Why was there a blizzrd in April?

-I really don't like ketchup in those little packets...

How does Mark Bartikoski find the BEST coffee wherever he goes?

-Can anyone explain why a pizza, a cheeseburger and two eggs for breakfast are each always $10.00 at any hotel?

-Are we doing this again next year? -

(By the way...the RE/MAX crew is getting ready for the Minnesota shows as we read this-safe travels, good sales and tall tales, gang!)

If we are, count me in - if you can stand to be around me for that long.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cold Pizza, Bad Weather,Warm Hugs and Hot Ideas....Day 3

...waking up early in Waukesha is pretty easy if you have an alarm on your cell phone, a wake up call and an alarm clock all synched to go off at once. Ten minutes apart, and it's cold pepperoni pizza washed down a warm raspberry Dasani for breakfast instead of a yummy malted waffle.

Down in our meeting room at the Milwaukee Marriott West, we agreed the weather was pretty crummy. Well, beyond pretty crummy , and we looked out the window and wondered who would make it:

(Mother Nature knows how to brrrrrrrr-ing it on...)

...but by 8:35, we had nearly a full house of 45+ Badger State Realtors, and the mood was celebratory, partly because all had arrived safely despite the spring blizzard, and Realtors are generally a pretty social bunch of pastry and coffee-seekers who find their friends pretty easily in a crowd:

As we got down to business, I got some major help from Gary Gerhardt :

...from RE/MAX 100 who could explain - in detail - exactly what an enhanced membership to Realtor dot-com means and how it is handled. I had an IDEA, but Gary had the right answer. It was so detailed I can't even remember it, really-but the nodding heads of all the Realtors in the room reassured me I could still learn and talk at the same time - as long as I remember I have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

And Jean Henning really grilled me hard about why I was blogging and what good is it:

...and why does it matter and should she pay for it or could she do it for free - I just wanted to ask her how she manages 72 listings at once. I expect to see her blogging soon over at activerain.

...then the RE/MAX crew escaped Waukesha and made it to Wisconsin Dells:

Under less than ideal traveling conditions:

realizing an early bedtime is a great idea.

(...probably only Leonardo DaVinci had great ideas after midnight,


More tomorrow and glad for it,


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You can't cut a donut with a laser pointer...

...and nothing is harder to sell to a Realtor than technology. They are a tough crowd. Example:

You have to soften them up with donuts, cupcakes - a LOT of coffee -and they appreciate it:

Anyway, the ReMax Wisconsin technology tour kicked off pretty darn early , too darn early in Neenah - over 60 Realtors wrestled for donuts, other assorted yum-yums, and a chair to sit on as a way-to-sunny-smile and hearty "WAKE UP!!!" from Elizabeth Kuhn of ReMax-North Central opened the day-one, half-day seminar:

"In this free half day session you will come away with a clear understanding of how the RE/MAX Brand is helping you get to the next level. Your Regional Promotions staff and special guest speakers will educate you on a variety of tools available right now, that will assist you in growing your business. Whether it be the new Agent Training on Demand in RE/MAX Mainstreet, Learning about the 2007 Advertising Buy, LeadStreet Education, Cause Marketing and PR Strategies, RSN Training, Free Regional Services, or seeing the fantastic new enhancements to the RE/MAX Design Center...we will cover it all...and then some!"

(...whew...see what a sugar buzz does to ya? )

It didn't stop there...Michele Brenegan talked about something sweeter than donuts- Cause Marketing - you know, not marketing 'cause you have bills to pay, but the really great kind where everyone pulls together for something like the Children's Miracle Network and the Susan G. Komen foundation - technology with a heart:

Michele pointed out cheezehedz, especially ReMax cheezehed Realtors, ain't no slouches in giving it up to make living easier for those who need help - of course, we beat ReMax in MN. But hey, the North Central ReMax Team is 5th in the nation - and of course, there are bigger states with more Realtors in them.

Jill Kelsey backed her up by saying how ReMax has an extremely positive image with the public because of relationships like this and advised the regional Realtors to call her and ask for advice on how to smile nice so newspaper editors will write nice stuff about you:

Here we see Jill with a great smile and several name tags she authored. Actually, Jill nailed it with the advice that if it isn't timely or does not involve a 40-foot red-white-and -blue balloon, you should call her for some tips.

Mary LaPanta covered LeadStreet, and uttered the wisest words of the day:

"It's technology and it's going to_________."

(Discerning readers may fill in the blank and email it to Mary.)

..and Remax sales leader from Minnesota Mark Bartikoski covered a 10-point marketing program-mostly in the dark so we could see his cool animations on his Powerpoint. He talks with Kevin Dieck, below, during a break. Note the GRANDE cafe':

Mark had 10 great points, covering everything from using direct mail, stealth websites, how to show up at open houses even when you are deathly ill and using technologies like
RedX to capture expired listings and Obeo for an online marketing program to be able to just say NO to lowering commissions and working harder but crazier.

Well, what do Realtors like more than donuts and comfy chairs-besides commission checks?


Here we see the Remax throng pushing past the registration table one last time to fill their bling bags and hit the bricks running.

...the ReMax crew hit the road, too, heading south on Wisconsin HWY 41 and now we are holed up in Waukesha, waiting for a blizzard that we hope won't hold us up as we head for the Wisconsin Dells tomorrow afternoon.

For now, we got a few leftover cupcakes, raspberry Dasani water - and some great ideas to chew on during windshield time:

...I think I have to call my wife, if she remembers me....

I gotta go.


Monday, April 9, 2007

Zill-OW-OW-0W!...and: road blogging, road construction and flooding.

...with its most recent improvements, Zillow has accomplished what it set out to do: see if others would write more about what it is doing than it is actually doing - the discourse at Sellsius is well worth the read - the very immediate and real issues of transparency, liability, and accuracy are all in the soup. My take - as I predicted last week - Zillow could be moving toward Zill-0w! - …this whole situation with Zillow reminds me of kids telling ghost stories around the campfire, and everybody screaming bloody murder at the end of the tale - but nobody is dead.

It could also remind you of “People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.”
Reliability and liability - this is why Realtors have E&O coverage.
This is also why Zillow goes out of their way to wrangle their content on the World Wild Web - to shed the liability back onto the parties doing business. And to have Realtors work harder, of course - at being local experts and working with their sellers and buyers -which isn’t a bad thing at all.
Remember, Zillow was founded to flatten the market, generate ad revenue, make aggregation easy by having volunteers give up their information for whatever motivation and - just like Expedia - raise the question of why somebody is getting paid "all that money" to do something you think you can do yourself.

Meanwhile, the road calls: the blog is going on the road this week through Thursday!

SHAMELESS CORPORATE PLUG: ReMax North Central and Obeo will be on the road in Wisconsin April 10-12, visiting those Badger RE agents in Neenah, Waukesha and Wisconsin Dells showing off Obeos' new products, ObeoConnect-NEVER miss a buyer!-and Obeo HomeSite. A full slate of top technology trends and savvy speakers from ReMax, as well.

...and a great way to get a finger on the pulse of what is going on out there, RE-wise.

Stay tuned - we promise no further commerical interruption.

...and what else has been going on the past few days?

Minor flooding, in our back yard along the Rock River. BFFL Theresa and wonder dog, Bear, assure us all is well.

...and of course, the OTHER season:
This will likely be the scene in front our home until November of this year.

(Thank you,Wisconsin Department of Transportation.)

...and over at WannaNetwork, one of the meatiest discussions on Illegal Aliens housing ordinances is proving that once people start talking and thinking global, networking takes on a whole new meaning.

...something else missed last week due to the wind howling through the Zillows: RISMedia is out there ready to bleed:from Stefan Swanepoel -"...the real estate industry is still marketing all over the board and really doesn't understand the online marketing channel, says the report's author and trend expert, Swanepoel." This discussion of the Foreign Born Opportunity-the demand in the U.S. for immigrant housing is something ALL Realtors should have on their READ-IT-NOW list. I've been yammering about this global trend to anyone who didn't openly laugh at me for months.-MORE on this later!

Happy-post Hippity-Hoppity to all.

I'm outta here.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Ideas are like compost...

...but they don't usually look like this:

(Mulch in my driveway awaiting composting stuff. )

...but are these good ideas? Like compost, it depends on what you mix in.

...Yeah, and bring a large cheese pizza... - Eppraisal. Drive-by. Ok. Are there going to be so many of these companies popping up that competing drive-by appraisals clogging the quiet neighborhood streets will become the norm? Sounds like an opportunity for Progressive, not the banks or home owners...Pass me the Parmesan.
One fish, two fish, Redfin, blue fish... - The Big Red Fish gives us its continuing take on flat fees, commission refunds and all the joys of a transparent market: they bring us a Real Estate Consumer's Bill Of Rights. Hey -don't we already have the Realtor Code of Ethics ? FHA? And all the state and federal fiduciary finery that comes with the career? I mean benevolent is good but who is going to sit on the Committee to Review Redundant Ethical Practices ? This is a watchdog chasing its tail.
Don't hesitate-aggregate: Zillow throws caution to the wind with its plan to be number one in the 2.0 world with consumer-owner-be-a-neighborhood-expert-faced-self-regulated-information-posted-by-the-homeowner-or-listing-agent-information-aggregation-location on the web. w0w. Can I borrow a cup of keywords, neighbor?

The Show That Never ENDS! - Even the folks at Sellsius missed this obvious match-up; they must still be recovering from the ProBlogger par-tay in the Big Apple:


Justin, who is currently lifecasting to the web and reality show Real Estate Confidential :Duh.
Give this guy his RE license and turn him loose on the real estate scene. Anywhere. Throw in a sub-prime lender backstory and use spare Fannie Mae workers for walk-ons. Now there is some emo-content for ALL of us.

Thanks for stopping by.
I gotta go compost.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Inman proud owner of new Weenie!

The roller grill of blogging keeps on turning - Free Speech Crusader and Realtor Teresa Boardman announced Sunday-sometime between my second cup of coffee and lunch-that she has accepted an offer from Inman News for the Real Estate Weenie - with condiments.

Not surprisingly,the list of those who got off their buns to make an offer were top or wanna-be-near-top dogs in the bloggosphere: Larry Cragun, Rudy Bachraty of Sellsius, Pat Kitano at and an unnamed real estate marketing consultant from Obeo - me. The Weenie is priceless, but my Mastercard is played out.

April Fool or not: after the last ten or twelve days in the bloggosphere, let's not forget death threats and thugblogging silenced two voices, one maybe for good - Kathy Sierra -
and one when the blogthugs ganged up on her- Boardman.

Make no mistake - both of these situations, while each different in outcome, put a face on free speech. Being a 1st Amendment absolutist myself, note that free speech is a human endeavor judged by the content and the decorum of the debate. Those elements are essential and there is not much give in either of these conversations, and way too much taking. Blogging can and should be humorous, informative and not harmful to living things.

(As of the posting of this blog, no news on plans for the Weenie at Inman or how much they will charge for a Weenie.)
Inman News, another very human endeavor, is now the proud owner of a legacy, whether it notices this or not. Inman's position on the roller grill is between megacontent and metablogging: it definitely is news to blog about and Inman is a definitive resource for bloggers.
The opportunity: for Inman to use its Weenie for good - and point it proudly at all that is bad in the real estate blogging universe.

Someone has to do it - right?

I'm outta here.