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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Help me - I'm hypothecating!

The real estate profession has its share of strange vocabulary. So while there are few experiences more underwhelming than sitting through 90 hours of real estate licensing class, there are at least a few bright spots. One is the exposure to arcane but historically interesting vocabulary that is used on the licensing tests, or so they tell me. Take a look at a few of these words -

Chattel - an old name for personal property, basically anything that isn't real estate could fall under this heading. I associate it to stories about slaves being included as chattel, not a pleasant concept.

Emblements - these are crops that a tenant farm would grow on leased land - even is the land is taken back by the owner (for failure of the tenant to pay, for example) the emblements are the property of the tenant.

Escheat - an appropriately sounding word for the government appropriating property when a person dies without a will and with no heirs.

Hypothecate - when a borrower puts their property up as collateral for a loan - so I guess that means most home owners are hypothecators? That doesn't sound legal, does it?

Livery of Seizin - this Middle Age expression is the antiquated way of saying 'delivery of possession and title to a buyer. This is a new one for me.

Short sale - this term is actually not in the study material for the AZ real estate licensing exam but seems to be the term with the most cache in today's market!

To be honest, the breadth of information covered in this class has kept me interested most of the time. It's a great combination of law, history, geography, finance, taxes and social culture. And, yes, I'll be ecstatic to be finished!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sensible Web Marketing Tips from an Icon

Francine Hardaway is an icon in the Arizona technology and business community (and elsewhere). Her vast experience and willingness to share it have earned her a great degree of respect. Below is a copy of her recent post to the AZIPA message board. The advice may seem remedial to SEO pros, but the content is rock solid. Please enjoy and implement "7 Simple Ways to Get Search Engines to See Your Site"

(Geeks will already know this) You can't just make a web site anymore and hope people will come. You can't even blog anymore and hope people will come, although good blogging software like Wordpress has built-in SEO (search engine optimization).

You have to do something to get your content out to where the people are. Even large corporations are often disappointed by the amount of traffic to their corporate sites -- people just don't go to sites. In the early days, people "surfed" the net. Now we all know it's too big to find things randomly. Rather, we take advice from friends, follow links from Twitter and Facebook, or take whatever result comes up on Google or Yahoo searches. So do your visitors.

The marketplace is full of companies that supposedly help your site get attention. While some are good, some resort to methods you might not want to be associated with if you care about your corporate image. So don't just hire a company and entrust it with the responsibility of carrying your image out on the internets. Take the time to learn a little about the most important marketing tool you have -- your web site. Develop it correctly and it will be found even without outside help.

There are several simple web site development tools that are almost free or support themselves through hosting services that I use when I want to turn a site over to a client who will be able to maintain it him/herself in the future. Use one of them if you are doing a site yourself. (Weebly , Wordpress , Squarespace )

Or ask your web developer to abide by these simple rules, and your content will get out into the world at large. Search engines work on complicated algorithms that usually involve changes, links in to your site, and good keywords. So here are seven simple ways to get people to look at your site.

1) Create quality. Forget brochureware and product sheets, unless they already contain the keywords your customers and clients will be looking for. No one is looking for a "complete real-time solution." Make your terms crystal clear, without jargon, and repeat them naturally in your copy. Hyperlink terms to other places on your site. If you were buying, searching, comparing in your own category, what would you be typing into a search engine?

2) Add a feed to your site. This allows someone who comes to your site to subscribe to your content. At the very least, create a Twitter feed that will automatically make your site changes or blog posts come up as links in your Twitter posts, where your followers can click on the

3) Change the content often. Search engines look for changes. This is why blogs work. And don't accept a web site that can't be updated and managed by you without having to call the web developer. It's called a "content management system," and you want one. Static web sites don't get found.

4) Make your site social. Put a Share this button on your site, so if someone wants to send
your content to a friend or a social site, it's easy for them to do. There are many different widgets that allow your readers to share your content; just choose one. I've got nothing invested in ShareThis, other than its ease of use.

5) Use anchor text wisely. Search engines crawl it. So every time you write "click here," you are missing an opportunity. Instead, hyperlink keywords you think your readers are looking for, or you wish they were searching for to find your site.

6) Find out what the most important keywords in your sector or business area are. There's a service called Hitwise you can use to get this data, or you can get it from Google itself. Believe me, Google's Adsense program knows. Use them in your copy.

7) Stay away from Flash animations on your landing page. Flash looks good, but search engines don't search it, so if you want to be found, you can forget about it.

None of these tricks is complicated, nor will they get you in trouble with the search engine gods. I've learned them all through hard experience.

Friday, March 13, 2009

We Fix Stupid Haircuts

"We fix stupid haircuts." With this simple phrase Ely the Barber has built several successful barber shop businesses on both sides of the continent. In a few words he has captured the essence of attitude and differentiation, establishing himself as a barber of quality in a world of mediocrity.

Like many small business owners, Ely works hard, six days a week, to build a business that supports himself and his family. Yet Ely has the knack, the 'je ne sais quoi' that allows him to excel where others flounder. Born in Russia, Ely traveled through Israel to get to the US by the age of thirty. He learned the language and he learned the craft of barbering. He also learned to cut hair to the demanding standards of his Long Island clientele. He soon had his own shop, Ely's Barber Shop then then another, in the Long Island area.

In search of a better life, he moved from the city to Arizona. Once here, he rebuilt the Ely's Barber Shop of New York fame. And like many of his new neighbors, he invested in real estate. Yes, you know the rest of that story.

Undaunted, Ely has undertaken to rebuild his business in a small shopping center in Glendale, AZ. Surrounded by budget hair cutting chains and a community that is feeling the effects of the down economy, Ely offers high quality cuts that are rare on in the West Valley. He has a disarming, pleasant smile and the ability to converse on almost any topic. Instead of the sports and sex motifs common in many barbershops, Ely plays quality music videos of a variety of international musicians to add a charm seldom seen in Arizona.

To increase traffic, Ely has mixed traditional and web marketing. To leverage his location on a high traffic street, he invested in a bright yellow sign off the main road. Using Market Like a Millionaire tactics, he set up a Merchant Circle free website, and purchased from Go-Daddy. Through building several inbound links from local search engines such as Google Local, He now ranks #2 in a Google search for "barber shop 85302" in his area. He also ranks #1 in a search for 'Ely's Barber Shop" among the dozen or so shops of a similar name in the US.

Ely's next move is to ask his patrons to go to his website to post testimonials. This not only helps his ranking and online reputation, it also positions him with his customers as a barber who's 'with it'. His customers have a chance to experience a sense of involvement in Ely's success, further connecting them with him.

A diamond in a rough economy, Ely will soon be featured in local newspaper profiles of how to persist and thrive while other complain about their stupid haircuts. Stay tuned for his other sensible marketing strategies. And stop by to let Ely give you the best haircut in the Valley.

Friday, February 20, 2009

FaceBook - Avoid Tattoo Regret for your online presence

The conversation about FaceBook content ownership policies serves to remind us all that posting anything to the Internet is akin to creating online tattoos for your online presence. Like a tattoo, once content is posted it can be very difficult to remove.

Professional marketers are typically aware that any messaging, print or web, can come back to haunt you. They know that with the easy expressiveness and transparency of blogging or Twitter, there can be serious consequences of poor or inappropriate content.

The FaceBook issue applies to all the social media technologies. Once something is on the Internet, there is may be little you can do to take it back. Inappropriate pictures, associations, expressions, etc, can be used against you now and far into the future.

There are some relevent lessons in the recent article in the Daily Chronicle titled Tattoo Regret.
"Derick also removes a lot of tattoos people got in their teens that don't define them as adults, she said. “I think people, when they're younger, want to identify with something. But ultimately, when you get older, you don't want to be defined by that content,” she said."

Sensible marketing planning includes thinking through messaging, themes and appropriate content for all communications, then planning before publishing. The saying goes, Think before you speak applies completely here.