Manager Tip 6: Recruiting and Agent Essentials

A great, long time client recently asked “do agents still need websites“?

While thinking about this question, let’s consider the world that buyers and sellers live in today, and tomorrow.

i. We know:

A. 86% of smartphone time is spent in apps.

B. 75% of Americans have smartphones.

C. 51% of an American’s Day is spent on mobile, 42% on desktop/laptop computers.

D. AirBnB and Uber are creating new, much simpler digital experiences.

E. Notifications are growing rapidly and becoming interactive.

F. Millennials love their smartphones. 87% say it never leaves their side. 44% use their smartphone’s camera daily.

G. The fact that this question is being asked today, in 2015, indicates that things have changed.

ii. Recruiting & Coaching Opportunities.


Let’s consider the tools necessary for most agent jobs to be done:

1. Prospecting

I have 30 seconds when I meet someone to be credible” – an agent at a recent app sales training session. With one tap, agents can immediately discuss and share the latest market information, trends and charts. Sharing is simple via text, email and social networks.

These techniques are far more effective at building relationships than handing out a printed brochure, or asking for two hours to return to the office and use the PC based MLS.

Sharing information electronically creates CRM profiles for your agent and brokerage.

In addition, that shared information contains – for our clients – a branded link back to the agent website, supplied by your brokerage.

These techniques are ideal for open houses as well.

Messaging apps have exploded in popularity. Many message apps support QR codes. Your agents can quickly generate and share QR codes for their websites, listings and reports.

2. Sphere of Influence

Buyers and sellers are flooded with data today. A great agent turns that data into useful, actionable information.

The agent, after meeting and discussing market trends with a prospect, can tap to save a search for the new or existing prospect. The prospect and agent will begin to receive automatic notification and/or email updates including the latest properties for sale along with status and price changes.

Notification and email messages include agent and broker branding along with links to the agent’s website. Again, this information auto-populates the cloud CRM for future market trends, documents, transactions, newsletters, survey and mortgage opportunities.

3. Buyers

Create buyer presentations and tours. Create and share favorites (note that favorite listings sync from between your agent/broker websites along with the public and agent apps and our cloud CRM). Create saved searches for your buyers.

Auto-fill and complete buyer agency and purchase documents. Sign “in person” with the agent app or via e-signature apps & services.

Keep buyers in your orbit with simple CRM plans, including market trends, tips, newsletters and mortgage information.

4. Sellers

interactive CMA immediately shares current market conditions with sellers. Agents swipe to add or delete comparables. One tap to save and another to share via text, email and social networks.

The new Listing Activity Report shares agent and brokerage marketing efforts with sellers in real time.

Everything is visible in the cloud and agent app CRM.

Auto-fill and share listing documents. Sign “in person” with the agent app or via e-signature apps & services.

5. Closings

Documents are auto-filled from listing, personnel and CRM data. Quickly, email, print or share via other apps.

Documents auto-populate downstream agent and brokerage transaction and customer for life processes – saving everyone time and hassle.

6. 360 degree CRM view.

All activity is visible within the single entry Agent App and cloud CRM system.

iii. Conclusion

– Do agents need websites, in 2015?

I’d say yes, as part of a larger, single entry broker and agent tool strategy. Remember, 41% of America’s digital time is spent on laptop and desktop computers while 51% (and growing) on mobile devices.

The examples noted above cover agents’ jobs to be done today and tomorrow across all client devices.

This list is an ideal checklist for manager recruiting and retention discussions.

Unfortunately, few brokers have the leadership and staff to pull this off. Those that do create significant separation from the competition.

Contact Jim Zellmer jim@vp.io or 1 608 468 6013 for a more detailed presentation.

Google Manipulates Search Results, According to Study From Yelp and Legal Star Tim Wu

Mark Bergen

“When the facts change, your thinking should change,” Wu told Re/code about the evolution of his stance. “The main surprising and shocking realization is that Google is not presenting its best product. In fact, it’s presenting a version of the product that’s degraded and intentionally worse for consumers.”
 
 He added: “This is the closest I’ve seen Google come to [being] the Microsoft case.”
 
 For Wu, the facts that changed came from Yelp. The local reviews company — and longstanding Google adversary — built a browser plugin meant to recreate Google’s organic search page stripped of its OneBox, the listings and map pairing Google began inserting in 2009 for searchers that triggers local results. Yelp named the alternative search results “Focus on the User,” after the anti-Google campaign it and other companies like TripAdvisor launched last year to convince EU regulators to move on an antitrust suit.

Communication in the world of apps

Ericsson (PDF):

In this report, we aim to explain how people communicate today in the world of apps, and what the future will look like as technology continues to develop to accommodate our needs. Through messaging and social media, keeping in touch with those around us has never been easier – even with those we see infrequently.
 
From smartphone user personalities to cultural variations, we examine the differing ways that today’s users relate to communication apps.

10 minute turn

Daniel Hajek:

“They were not yet a year old. They were consistently losing money. They were constantly scrambling to see what they could do to save cost or boost revenues,” says Terry Maxon, the aviation reporter at The Dallas Morning News.
 
 Desperate to keep up, Southwest’s vice president of ground operations, Bill Franklin, was tasked with finding a solution. The answer he came up with was simple: Unload and load passengers faster than the other airlines, and get the planes right back in the air.

High-Profile Study Turns Up the Antitrust Heat on Google

Brad Stone:

Google is facing a new high-profile adversary in the roiling fight over whether its monolithic search engine violates antitrust law: Columbia Law School professor and noted Internet theorist Tim Wu. The author of the influential book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires co-wrote a paper asserting that Google is engaging in anticompetitive behavior by prominently serving up its own content, like restaurant reviews and doctors office phone numbers, in search results.
 
 Wu is an unlikely person to join the antitrust chorus against Google. He’s often been an ally of the company over the years. Before an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor of New York state last year, Wu worked as an unpaid Google fellow in 2008 and served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in 2011 and 2012, helping draft Internet traffic regulation that Google favors. Wu coined the term “network neutrality,” and a 2008 Businessweek story credited him with partly inspiring Google’s open mobile strategy in Android.

4 New Moments Every Marketer Should Know

Think Google:

Consumer behavior and expectations have forever changed. With powerful phones in our pockets, we do more than just check the time, text a spouse, or catch up with friends. We turn to our phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers. It’s in these I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy moments that decisions are made and preferences are shaped.

How renting became the new homeownership

Emily Badger:

The majority of American households still own their homes, a fact that will remain true as far into the future as demographers and economists can see. But the balance of homeowners and renters has been shifting in the U.S. in ways that have already altered the demographics of renting, the affordability of rental housing and the kind of new housing we build.
 
 This shift, underway since the housing bust, is flipping conventional images of what it means to rent: Renters are now living, by the millions, in single-family homes that were once owned. Wealthy households far from the stereotype of struggling twenty-somethings are renting, too. So are the parents of those twenty-somethings.

Publishers Prepare to Ramp Up News Distribution on Facebook’s Instant Articles in Coming Days

Lukas Alpert & Jack Marshall:


 By publishing articles directly to Facebook through Instant Articles instead of linking back to their own websites, publishers hope to increase the exposure of their content on the social networking service, especially on mobile devices, and improve load time. Under Facebook’s new program, publishers will get to keep 100% of revenue brought in from ads that they sell and 70% if Facebook sells the ad.
 
 The Atlantic has already signed up AMC’s upcoming sci-fi TV show “Humans” to advertise alongside its Instant Article offerings, said Mr. Cohn.
 
 Kinsey Wilson, the New York Times editor for innovation and strategy, said the paper intends to sell all the ads running with its stories itself, rather than having Facebook sell the ads.
 
 “We believe we can command a rate similar to what we get for an ad on our own site,” Mr. Wilson said.

Google Accused of “Abusive” Conduct in Privacy App Case

Ryan Gallagher:

Disconnect, a U.S. firm that designs privacy-enhancing technology, has filed a complaint with European antitrust regulators after its Android app was banned from the Google Play Store. The app was designed to protect smartphone users from invisible tracking and malware distributed through online advertisements.
 
 The complaint was submitted earlier this month, but the full allegations were not made public at the time. The Intercept has obtained a copy of the 104-page complaint, which attacks Google over its claimed commitment to privacy and accuses the tech titan of trying to stop people from using the Disconnect app because it poses an “existential threat” to its revenue sources.
 
 Google’s business, the complaint claims, “consists almost entirely of gathering data about the preferences, locations, and behavior of ordinary people and monetizing that data through the sale of targeted advertisements on the Internet.” Because of this, it alleges, Google is “using the full weight of its market power to deny users control over tracking, particularly mobile tracking.”

Is it better to buy or rent

Mike Bostock, Shan Carter & Archie Tse:

The choice between buying a home and renting one is among the biggest financial decisions that many adults make. But the costs of buying are more varied and complicated than for renting, making it hard to tell which is a better deal. To help you answer this question, our calculator takes the most important costs associated with buying a house and computes the equivalent monthly rent. RELATED ARTICLE

Chinese Buyers Replace Canadians as Top Foreign Buyers of U.S. Homes

Laura Kusisto:

Chinese buyers have surpassed Canadian snowbirds as the dominant foreign buyers of homes in the U.S., according to the National Association of Realtors.
 
 Purchasers from China made up 16% of international buyers who bought primarily single-family homes and condominiums in the 12-month period that ended in March, according to the survey by the National Association of Realtors. That was up from 12% in 2013. Canadians made up 14% of…

San Francisco and New York Weigh Airbnb’s Effect on Rent

Room for Debate:

In July, San Francisco will vote on proposals to regulate Airbnb, the vacation rental website that some say is contributing to the rise in housing cost in high-demand cities, where many long-term residents are unable to afford rent.
 
 Is regulation necessary or is the threat exaggerated? How much is Airbnb affecting the housing market in cities like San Francisco where rent is high and rising?
 
 

Why Millennials Don’t Live Where You’d Expect Them To

Natalie Kitreoff:

Millennials are the most mobile generation in the U.S., and plenty of analysis has been devoted to figuring out their best and worst relocation options. But while they do a lot of moving, the reasons why may be more complicated than a ranked list can capture, according to new data from Livability, a website that tracks public opinion about cities and suburban areas. The survey, conducted by market-research firm Ipsos Public Affairs for Livability, asked more than 2,000 adults which characteristics of a place factored into their job decisions.

Western Firms Caught Off Guard as Chinese Shoppers Flock to Web

Laurie Burkitt & Peter Evans:

After enjoying nearly three decades of steady growth in its China business, Unilever PLC last year watched sales fall off a cliff.

The maker of Dove soap, Lux shampoo and Comfort fabric softener warned in October of a 20% drop in its third-quarter China sales. The next quarter, the company announced another 20% fall.

Unilever blamed a slowing Chinese economy and a pullback by shoppers. But a close look at retailing trends in China suggests Unilever was also feeling the pain of the migration of hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers to online shopping.

Unilever wasn’t the only Western company overestimating brick-and-mortar. Swiss food giant Nestlé SA has been burning instant coffee it couldn’t sell in stores. It recently told The Wall Street Journal it failed to fathom the extent of how quickly and broadly retail was changing in China. Colgate-Palmolive Co. and Germany’s Beiersdorf AG, which makes Nivea skin cream, have also cited problems with overstocking.

Car Dealers Aim to Curb Online Rivals

Christina Rogers & Anne Steele:

New-car dealers are sharpening their Web-sales skills, angling to cut out the middlemen in online transactions—companies such as TrueCar Inc. and AutoTrader.com—that funnel customers to their stores and have grown into potential rivals.

These websites attract potential customers looking for car information, reviews and pricing guides, and then charge dealers to steer buyers to their stores—a fee that in some cases costs up to $400 a referral. Today, they are sizable businesses in their own right, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. TrueCar went public last year and has a market value of more than $1 billion.

Now, after years of embracing these online firms, top car retailers such as AutoNation Inc., want to cut back on using third-party shopping sites in favor of their own online sales. Others want to curb the sites’ rising influence and revenue—which they see undercutting their own brands. Some have filed lawsuits challenging the businesses.

AutoNation Moves Customers Closer to Buying Cars Online.

Platforms all the way down

John Herrman:

Both moves make sense: They give these companies, who are not shy about reminding the public that they have presided over the creation of vast new industries, more control over what has grown, they feel, on their turf. Such changes might also fundamentally change what an app is, and how it should function: An operating system in which an app’s utility is extracted from its interface and integrated into the main software is an operating system that regards apps in a meaningfully different way than the iOS or Android of yesterday. Just as a publisher’s proposition to an advertiser is undermined by Facebook’s ability to advertise further up the referral chain, an app—even an app like Facebook!—might find business models reliant on platforms within platforms less appealing. (You could argue that in-app interfaces have already been demoted by notifications, which provide direct access not just to apps but to specific parts and actions of apps. A simple messaging app exists substantially within notifications; many in the first wave of Apple Watch apps are, essentially, notification filters.)
 
 This is the proper context to understand Apple’s music services and News app, which, not unlike Facebook’s Instant articles, will host publications’ content natively. (It will also allow publications to sell their own advertising, or supply ads for a cut of revenue.) Whether or not Apple’s News app will succeed is as much a question about how Apple’s platform will change as it is about the specifics of the first version of the app: Do people want a Flipboard-style panel of nicely formatted news stories with no social context? And if they do, won’t publishers face the same identity obliteration they found on News Feed, where publications’ names and reputations have been relegated to captions between panels of official platform content? Or is finding a foothold on Apple’s platform about making sure you’re at least present when media is proactively sent to users according to the judgment of software? Apple’s past attempts at bigfooting their developers haven’t always worked, but they have also been relatively constrained—a News app that’s just one more app in the grid doesn’t seem to change much on its own. But, again, Apple provides and exerts influence over that entire context.

Manager Tip 5: Pain Reliever

First, we are here:

Recruiting and retention is job number one for successful brokers. Yet, effective recruiting and retention is a struggle for many firms.

Consider two approaches:

“Broker a” has added 21 different marketing, CRM, transaction, document, CMA, brochure, SEO, social, drip, aggregation and website systems over the years. Agents and managers are largely on their own to navigate this information spaghetti. Contacts must be re-entered into many systems. Each system requires a unique login.

Pros

  1. If the broker has money, adding systems requires simply writing a check.
  2. A lengthy list of tools can be shared.
  3. Avoids staff, productivity or business process decisions.

Cons

  1. Time
  2. Lost staff, manager and agent time due to misplaced logins and duplicate efforts across 21 systems
  3. Lost leverage. Time spent in one area (CMA, documents) does not benefit another (transactions)
  4. Growth. It is very difficult to acquire firms and add offices with information spaghetti
  5. Recruiting/Retention. How can managers understand and sell complexity?
  6. Lacks stickiness
  7. Thin adoption
  8. Impossible to train agents/staff on so many systems

“Broker b” uses a single entry platform, from public and agent apps to websites, showings, CRM, CMA, documents, transactions, newsletters, drip and concierge services.

Information is entered once and used throughout the brokers business, including home warranty, mortgage, title, relocation, lead management, recruiting and retention. Sales training is effective because managers and staff can focus their efforts. Recruiting and retention is possible….

Pros

  1. Simple to sell
  2. It works
  3. Real apps for the mobile era
  4. It works
  5. Saves time
  6. Agents use it
  7. Powers growth
  8. Broker value add via CRM
  9. Simple to learn
  10. Sales training
  11. Costs less

Cons

  1. Requires leadership
  2. Requires strong staff
  3. Implementation requires thinking about processes and costs/benefits
  4. “Spinach is good for you…”

Any manager can do this, quickly, with agents and recruits.

Tap the short video below.

Finally, speaking of leadership, Team of Teams by Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman & Chris Fussell is worth reading.

Contact Jim Zellmer 1 608 468 6013 or jim@vp.io for more information.

Two-thirds (67%) of all US email opens occurred on a mobile device in 1Q15, according to a recent report from Movable Ink.

Ayaz Nanji:

Two-thirds (67%) of all US email opens occurred on a mobile device in 1Q15, according to a recent report from Movable Ink.

The report was based on data from 1.2 billion email opens that occurred between January and March 2015 in the United States. The emails were sent by Movable Ink’s customer base, which includes more than 250 enterprise B2C marketers from the retail, travel, financial, media, and telecommunications industries.

Some 50% of the email opens tracked occurred on a smartphone, and 17% occurred on a tablet, the analysis found; the remaining 33% of opens occurred on a desktop computer

Mobile First

Benedict Evans:

But actually, one could generalize this beyond social – the smartphone itself is an internet platform in a way that a PC was not. On a PC the web browser was the internet platform, but on a smartphone it’s the entire device and the browser is turned from ‘the internet’ to one icon, just a phone calls turned from the purpose of the device to just one icon.

That means that instead of thinking about the constraints of mobile – of the things you can’t do because the screen is smaller and there’s no keyboard – we should rather think of the PC as having the basic, cut-down, limited version of the internet, because it only has the web. It’s the mobile that has the whole internet. 

Learn more about Virtual Properties’ Agent and public apps: jim@vp.io or 1 608 468 6013.

“10 times faster than the standard mobile web”

Facebook

Leveraging the same technology used to display photos and videos quickly in the Facebook app, articles load instantly, as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web.

Related: compare a real app vs a “responsive website”.

Survey: YouTube Stars More Popular Than Mainstream Celebs Among U.S. Teens

Susanne Ault:
 

That’s the surprising result of a survey Variety commissioned in July that found the five most influential figures among Americans ages 13-18 are all YouTube faves, eclipsing mainstream celebs including Jennifer Lawrence and Seth Rogen. The highest-ranking figures were Smosh, the online comedy team of Ian Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla, both 26.
 
 
Despite having minimal exposure in the mainstream media, another comedy duo, known as the Fine Bros., Benny and Rafi, finished a close second, followed by the Swedish videogamer who has the most subscribers on all of YouTube, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg — otherwise known as PewDiePie. Interestingly, the highest-ranking non-YouTuber is Paul Walker, who tragically died in a car accident late in 2013.

Hayek and Business Management

Arnold Kling:

Chris Dillow writes,
 
 If extensive knowledge is possible, then bosses might be able to manage big companies well. If not, then centrally planned companies will be inefficient. Sure, perhaps competition will eventually weed out egregious incompetence, but market forces might not grind so finely as to eliminate all inefficiency
 
 Pointer from Mark Thoma.
 
 I cannot emphasize enough how much I agree with this. Because I spent 15 years in business, I got an opportunity to see large organizations close up. I saw that in a large business, the top management cannot keep track of more than about three major initiatives at a time. I saw that compensation systems have to be frequently overhauled, because employees learn to game any system that stays in place for more than a couple of years. I saw the “suits vs. geeks” divide, as specialists in information technology or financial modeling had difficulty communicating with executives who had only general knowledge.
 
 The notion of large, efficient organization is an oxymoron. If you think that large corporations have overwhelming advantages, then you have explained why IBM still dominates the computer industry, while Microsoft and Apple never really got amounted to much of anything. I like to say that if you are afraid of large corporations then you have never worked for one.

How not to drown in numbers

Alex & Seth

If you’re trying to build a self-driving car or detect whether a picture has a cat in it, big data is amazing. But here’s a secret: If you’re trying to make important decisions about your health, wealth or happiness, big data is not enough.
 
 The problem is this: The things we can measure are never exactly what we care about. Just trying to get a single, easy-to-measure number higher and higher (or lower and lower) doesn’t actually help us make the right choice. For this reason, the key question isn’t “What did I measure?” but “What did I miss?”
 
 To see the dangers of big data untethered to any other kind of analysis, consider the story of Zoë Chance, a marketing professor at Yale. In a TEDx talk that has been watched hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube, she discusses her experience with a pedometer. She became so obsessed with increasing the count of her steps that she lost all proportion, taking walks at all hours and in all places. She told us that she even put the pedometer on her daughter so that her daughter’s steps would contribute to her number. She was able to “detox,” as she put it to us, only after she suffered an injury while walking in the basement, exhausted, in the wee hours of the night.

Agent Tip 46: Convert Contacts to Customers

Real estate success has always been about timing.

Let’s consider your market and customer interests.

1. The market expert (you).

Agent app notifications keep you on top of all changes in your markets. Simply save a search with notifications in the Agent app and you will begin to receive real time market updates, as illustrated below.

Tap on the notification to view and share changes.

2. Your clients.

Save searches for your buyer and seller clients. Main Street and the Agent app will “automatimagically” keep them up to date.

3. Nosy neighbors.

Add residents to your Agent app and Main Street contacts. Save a search and keep your brand and information in their flow.

4. Prospecting.

Share market stats, trends and charts from the Agent app along with Main Street’s email updates. Use these tools to grow your business and share your market knowledge.

Contact Jim Zellmer jim@vp.io or +1 608 468 6013 for a quick look at notification or email updates.

Why Energy Storage is About to Get Big – and Cheap

Ramez Naam:


 I’ve been writing about exponential decline in the price of energy storage since I was researching The Infinite Resource. Recently, though, I delivered a talk to the executives of a large energy company, the preparation of which forced me to crystallize my thinking on recent developments in the energy storage market.
 
 Energy storage is hitting an inflection point sooner than I expected, going from being a novelty, to being suddenly economically extremely sensible. That, in turn, is kicking off a virtuous cycle of new markets opening, new scale, further declining costs, and addition

It’s Official: Google Says More Searches Now On Mobile Than On Desktop

Search Engine Land:

The company says that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.” The company declined to elaborate further on what the other countries were, how recently this change happened or what the relative volumes of PC and mobile search queries are now.
 
 Google did tell us that mobile queries include mobile browser-based searches and those coming from Google’s mobile search apps. The company didn’t break down the relative shares of each.
 
 Google groups tablets with desktops. So this is just smartphones and does not include tablets.

Email Client Market Share

Litmus Labs:

This leaderboard of the most popular webmail, desktop, and mobile email clients is compiled from data collected worldwide by Litmus Email Analytics, and displays up-to-date figures for the top 10 email clients. These statistics are automatically updated each month, and are current as of 1 April 2015— 1 May 2015.
 
 Since determining the client in which an email is opened requires images to be displayed, the data for some email clients and mobile devices might be over- or under-represented due to automatic image blocking.

Where the Science is Taking Us in Cybersecurity

Dan Geer.

For vast majority of seniors who own one, a smartphone equals ‘freedom’

Monica Anderson:

Smartphone AttitudesWhen it comes to tech adoption, seniors generally lag behind their younger counterparts. But for Americans ages 65 and older who own a smartphone, having one in their pocket is a liberating experience.
 
 Asked if they feel that their phone represents “freedom” or “a leash,” 82% of smartphone-owning seniors described their phone as freeing, compared with 64% of those ages 18 to 29. By contrast, 36% of adult smartphone owners under the age of 30 described their phone as a leash, double the 18% of adults ages 65 and older who chose this term to describe their phone.
 
 Similarly, when asked to describe their smartphone as “connecting” or “distracting,” older users are significantly more likely to choose “connecting” as the best descriptor. On the other hand, younger smartphone users are twice as likely as older adults to view their phone as “distracting” (37% vs. 18%).

Forget the Apple Watch and Make Your Own Wearable Technology

Ava Kaufman:

When most people think about the future of wearable technology, they picture Apple Watches and FitBit bracelets that are more affordable and wornas commonly as underwear. However, Becky Stern pictures a jacket whose zipper shuts off the annoying TVs in her favorite bar, a GPS dog harness that track’s her dog’s run, or a skirt with embedded LED sensors that sparkles as she moves. Then she sews and programs them, and shares for free what she’s made and how-to make it in detailed step-by-step tutorials online.
 
 Though Stern has been sewing, tinkering, photographing, filming and editing things since at least the age of eight, she didn’t combine all of her skills until attending Parsons Design and Tech program. At Parsons she made one of her first electronic craft projects: a set of plush steaks embedded with LEDs. (They symbolized the “radiation process most American beef goes through during processing.”) In graduate school, Stern started producing video tutorials for MAKE—a passion project that eventually turned into a full-time gig.

The subtle science of selling – a six-step guide

Tiffanie Wen:

If I told you this is the most important article you’ll read this week, you probably wouldn’t believe me. But what if I could say that 75% of your friends agreed? Or if I could pull out the fact that nine out of 10 people of your age, education and income judged the article as relevant to them?* Then, perhaps, you might be more likely to read on.
 
 Many of us are probably aware that salespeople often use psychological tricks to persuade us to buy their products, even if they themselves aren’t aware of how these techniques mess with our mind. We might even like to think we are immune to that sort of manipulation. But the scientific evidence strongly suggests we aren’t. So why are the following hidden sales tricks so effective?
 
 1. Make false comparisons
 Take, for starters, the techniques of used car sales. In the name of research, Robert Levine, a professor of social psychology at California State University, Fresno, masqueraded as a salesman at a used car dealership in the early 2000s. As he recounts in his book, The Power of Persuasion: How We’re Bought and Sold, he was worried that he would fail to shift many cars because he wouldn’t be able to remember all the stats about the various models on the lot. Levine quickly learned, however, that plenty of used car salespeople don’t carry this information around in their heads either – to sell a car, they only really needed to memorise a few basic facts that applied to all the models on the lot. What mattered more was showing the cars in a strategic order.

The First 30 Seconds…..

An agent recently mentioned that she has 30 seconds to gain credibility with her clients. She shared her use of the Agent App:

“With one tap, I can discuss active, sold, pending and withdrawn listings around my current location, such as an open house”. I tap again to share market statistics and to save a search for this prospect.” 30 seconds.

Another agent mentioned taking a call when on vacation from a buyer prospect. “I just entered the zip code that they were interested in and shared a few properties along with a search.

The agent and public apps display your market when the user is located elsewhere, or has GPS turned off. The user can then navigate via pinch and zoom or use the jump to city, zip code or address/POI header.

30 seconds. Possible with the Agent App!

How Click Farms Have Inflated Social Media Currency

Doug Bock Clark:

Every morning, Kim Casipong strolls past barbed wire, six dogs, and a watchman in order to get to her job in a pink apartment building decorated with ornate stonework in Lapu-Lapu City. The building towers above the slums surrounding it—houses made of scrap wood with muddy goat pens in place of yards. She is a pretty, milk-skinned, 17-year-old girl who loves the movie Frozen and whose favorite pastime is singing karaoke. She is on her way to do her part in bringing down Facebook.

Casipong huffs to the third floor of the apartment building, opens a door decorated with a crucifix, and greets her co-workers. The curtains are drawn, and the artificial moonlight of computer screens illuminates the room. Eight workers sit in two rows, their tools arranged on their desks: a computer, a minaret of cell phone SIM cards, and an old cell phone. Tens of thousands of additional SIM cards are taped into bricks and stored under chairs, on top of computers, and in old instant noodle boxes around the room.

Richard Braggs, Casipong’s boss, sits at a desk positioned behind his employees, occasionally glancing up from his double monitor to survey their screens. Even in the gloom, he wears Ray-Ban sunglasses to shield his eyes from the glare of his computer. (“Richard Braggs” is the alias he uses for business purposes; he uses a number of pseudonyms for various online activities.)

The Mosaic Web Browser is 22

Wikipedia on the Mosaic Web Browser.

Via the Internet Society.

US Digital Ad Spend Hits New $49.5 Billion High In 2014; Mobile & Social See Greatest Growth

Danny Sullivan:

Digital advertising spend set a new record in 2014, according to the latest figures from the Internet Ad Bureau, rising to $49.5 billion in the United States. The greatest segments of growth were in mobile and social, though search remained the biggest overall ad spend segment.
 
 The chart below from the IAB report released today shows the year-by-year growth since 2005. In 2013, overall spend was $42.8 billion. That climbed to $49.5 billion in 2015:

Manager Tip 4: A Modern Recruiting Checklist

Our latest Agent App release – perfect for recruiting/retention – rides the biggest tech wave, ever:

  1. 75% of Americans have smartphones.
  2. 1.5billion smartphones and tablets were sold in 2014. That’s more than all PC’s currently in use.
  3. App time exceeds www time.
  4. Google’s per click advertising revenue has ____ (quiz) for the past 13 quarters.

An Agent App recruiting checklist:

A. One tap CRM view: simple and fast!

Agent benefits:

single screen view of ALL activity

automatic updates

socialG social graph

notes

calendar reminders

simple plans

favorites

saved searches

CMA

documents

listings

categories

bulk contact import with duplicate checks

Broker benefits:

CRM plans offer a constant, broker value add to your agents client flows.

The best app for your agents listing, selling and prospecting

Speed

Speed

Speed. It is very fast.

Simple CRM Sync

Managers can use it!

Managers can run office meetings with the Agent App. Share market activity, prepare agents for buyers and sellers with quick sales tips and discuss CRM flow benefits for prospects.

B. The best search.

Two taps to save a search for clients with notification or email updates.

Keyword search library. Quickly find the property your client is looking for. No more confusing MLS search screens.

Live trends & statistics. You are no longer limited to canned MLS statistics.

Touring: the finest buyer tour app.

Interactive CMA. Walk your buyers and sellers through the market. Update on the fly. Share across all digital platforms.

Notifications that keep your agents on top of a fast market.

Speech input

C. Documents.

Auto fill your documents with listing, CRM and transaction data.

Share anywhere. The Agent App’s documents are OPEN.

A smart cover sheet makes it easy for agents to save time and improve accuracy.

An agent recently told me that it is no longer acceptable to respond to a question the old, “pc way”: “I have to go back to my office. I will get back two you in two hours.

The mobile era is here. Are your managers and recruiters ready?

Dial 1 608 468 6013 or email jim@vp.io for a quick look.

Google: too big to derail

Jacob Silverman:

But like finance, Silicon Valley has to go beyond its core competencies. Google can’t depend on Internet advertising forever. The company seems to know this—its unified privacy policy, introduced in 2012, granted it the right to aggregate all consumer information collected across dozens of its various services. For Google, it was a recognition that data is its main asset, and that each foothold in a new industry—say, a smart home device or an in-car operating system—represents a new data stream that can reveal people’s likes, dislikes, and habits. Seen this way, Google is only in one business, broad as it is: controlling our telecommunications infrastructure, and the information flowing through it.
 
 To better understand this parallel evolution of tech and finance, just look at the latest news about the ongoing implosion of RadioShack. Like many companies facing bankruptcy, the derelict retailer is selling its assets. A number of its stores may become Sprint shops—a natural transition for a company that sold phones in partnership with AT&T. But an intense battle is going on right now over one of RadioShack’s most valuable assets—its consumer data. Information on more than 100 million customers (names, addresses, and purchase history) may soon be the property of Standard General, a hedge fund that won the auction for RadioShack’s assets.

How Marketers Lie to Themselves

The Ad Contrarian:

Anyone who has spent time in advertising knows that there are very few things in this world as unreliable as the numbers we throw around.
 
 Our industry is so poorly trained in mathematics and statistics, we can be fooled by the most elementary of statistical manipulations and misrepresentations.
 
 But our denseness about numbers is often as much about self-delusion as it is about ignorance. Often, we want to believe the lies we tell ourselves.
 
 I remember not long ago — during The Great QR Code Scare Of 2012 — I was finding the following statistic being bandied about: “60% of people say they use QR codes.”
 
 This statistic was obviously total bullshit, and yet serious people seemed to be taking it seriously. Anyone who spent any time in the real world could see that no one was using QR codes. Yet this stat kept popping up to justify the implementation of this dimwit technology.

“responsive design isn’t the answer in a post-browser world”

Tom Wentworth:

This new form factor represents a new push model of the web, and it’s not something that responsive design — an old reliable UI model when it comes to presenting content in a multi-device world — can facilitate. For the most part, being responsive helps us cater to new screen sizes and user interaction models like touch and swipe. But it’s time to face a harsh reality: responsive design isn’t the answer in a post-browser world. It can’t facilitate a new normal where notifications are the primary form of content.
 
 Web content management (WCM) solutions must evolve to cater to this shift in content consumption. Apple Watch users don’t have the same patience or needs as they do on a mobile device, and certainly not on a desktop. Shayne Sweeney, one of the engineering managers at Facebook said it best,
 
 If people use their desktop computers for hours at a time and their phones for minutes at a time, we think people will use the Watch for seconds at a time.”
 Consumers will engage mainly with short, actionable notifications and marketers will increasingly rely on design elements like cards to create that content.

Who millennials trust, and don’t trust, is driving the new economy

Emily Badger:

So, what gives? Why are hundreds of thousands of people letting strangers rent their bedrooms or drive their cars if society is growing more cynical? Why would you trust a company that ships you a dress worn by another woman last week if you don’t actually trust people all that much? How is the economy suddenly creating billion-dollar businesses around the idea of communal consumption at a time when we’re not feeling communitarian at all?
 
 Here is PwC’s smart answer: “If trust in individuals and institutions is waning or at best holding steady, faith in the aggregate is growing.”

Nearing Peak, U.S. Home Price Gains to Slow

Jonathan Lang:

Helping sustain the recent healthy pace of growth is the strength in housing prices in major cities that don’t include outlying, poorer-performing blue-collar counties and exurbs. For instance, another realty data cruncher, Local Market Monitor, which takes into account an area’s income and employment figures, as well as job and population growth and building-permit activity, sees more boom areas than S&P/Case-Shiller. The company’s founder, Ingo Winzer, says San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, and Denver have all moved to peak valuations, while Honolulu, Nashville, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, Portland, and Seattle also are near or at all-time highs.
 
 We think 4% growth in prices is a reasonable expectation over the next year or two, particularly in light of the strange dichotomy between economic and housing data that could prevent more rapid increases. While the split between a gradually rising rate of economic growth and a gradually slowing housing market is unlikely to result in a dramatic immediate change in housing prices in the next couple of years, it’s enough to raise questions about whether a more important, longer-term shift is under way.

‘Geo-inference’ can reveal your location in all mainstream browsers

Patrick Howell O’Neill:

Even Tor, the anonymizing network dedicated to protecting the user’s anonymity and location, does not protect perfectly against this attack. However, “it deploys good protection features,” Yaoqi said, and is likely the best browser defense one has against geo-inference attacks.
 
 The vulnerability stems from the fact that some of the world’s most popular websites are “location-oriented,” meaning they’re necessarily aware of visitors’ location information. Craigslist sites let users narrow their search by city or even neighborhood. Google directs users to a country-specific page—Google.com is just for the U.S., for example; Canadians get Google.ca. And then there are services like Google Maps, which caters to exact addresses and remembers specifically where almost all of its users live.
 
 The problem comes when the location information known by sites like Google and Craigslist leaks and becomes available to third parties that have no permission to know where you live.

US desktop search trends decline

AJ Kohn:

February saw more negative numbers with a 3.87% decrease, year over year, in desktop search volume. What’s truly amazing is that the number in February wasn’t just lower than 2014, but was lower than 2013 and 2012. That’s right, you have to go back to 2011 until you reach another February where desktop search volume was lower.
 
 February was also the third month of results since Yahoo’s Firefox search deal, which had resulted in a 1.2% gain in market share for Yahoo. However, that gain is starting to erode with Yahoo losing 0.2% share in February.

What did GOOGLE do SO WRONG to get a slapping from the EU?

Andrew Orlowski:

The most persuasive unresolved complaint is on the “retail” side, and relates to Google doing what Google promised never to do – promote its own services at the expense of rival startups. UK vertical search engine Foundem launched a highly regarded price comparison engine in 2006 (the Gadget Show thought it was the best) until it found itself blacklisted.
 
 Vertical is a specialist task, but Google had no intention of helping allowing others to explore it. That summer Foundem was hit by a Search Penalty, excluding it from any user searches for price comparisons. Google also scuppered its Adwords LPQ (Landing Page Quality) causing Google ads bought by Foundem to rise in price by 10,000 per cent. While other search sites were restored, Foundem wasn’t – particularly after the startup called foul, inviting the press and the European Commission to examine Google’s behaviour. In private, Google was promising Foundem it would be whitelisted, some day. In public, Google was denying whitelists and blacklists even exist – a stance it maintained until 2011.
 
 The world that Foundem’s founder predicted in a 2009 New York Times op-ed – where Google verticals dominate. For Google’s critics, its proposed remedy, as accepted by competition commissioner Almunia but rejected by his successor Vestager, was to turn the punishment into a new revenue stream. Rivals would be charged for access. The company which once rejected commercialism now put a price on every inch of its page.

Google, Microsoft, Stall Points, and Growth

Paul Kedrosky:

When might Google have its Microsoft moment? That is, when will it begin its inexorable decline – as most aging tech companies do when their growth stalls, and as Microsoft did – largely unbeknownst to (and even denied by) most observers? How might we know?
 
 I have a few things I look for when thinking about inflection points in aging technology companies. Not all of these conditions need to be satisfied, but at least some of them do.
 
 There are five major parts of the argument:
 
 1. Stock compensation loses its luster
 
 2. Declining growth
 
 3. No longer hiring for innovation
 
 4. Price & margin pressure in core business
 
 5. Government action

 

Microsoft + IPhone

Paul Thurrott:

And if you are a Microsoft guy, there are good reasons to choose iPhone over Android … and even over Windows Phone. Microsoft mobile apps generally appear on iPhone before they do so elsewhere, and certain Microsoft mobile apps are only available on iPhone, at least for now. In several cases, you will see finished Microsoft apps appear on iPhone, whereas Android receives a rougher preview release instead. In many ways, iPhone—or iOS more generally—is the place to be if you’re interested in Microsoft’s mobile solutions.
 
 Regardless, this is the no judging zone, guys. Some people simply prefer iPhone to the competition, which I certainly understand given its market-leading content ecosystems. Others are provided with an iPhone at work and don’t have a choice. But it doesn’t matter why: there are hundreds of millions of iPhones out there, and in the fourth quarter of 2014—admittedly an unusual record-breaking period for Apple—iPhone (71.5 million units) outsold Lumia (10.5 million) by almost 7 to 1. So let’s just agree to be pragmatic here, as Microsoft is doing.
 
 While a complete rundown of every Microsoft app on iPhone would likely be out of date within minutes, it’s interesting to at least consider what is available. And looking at my own iPhone 6 Plus, I see the following.

The smartphone: An essential travel guide

Monica Anderson & Eric Smith:

Indeed, 43% of smartphone owners say turn-by-turn navigation is the only transit-related function they use on their phone at least occasionally, according to new analysis of the data. Some 16% say they never use their mobile device for this purpose.
 
 Turn-by-turn navigation is a popular feature among a wide range of smartphone owners, but younger adults are especially avid users. Some 80% of 18- to 29-year-old smartphone owners use their phone for real-time directions while at the wheel at least occasionally, and just 7% indicate that they never do so. Older adults are substantially less likely to use their phone for this purpose, but even so, more than one-third of smartphone owners ages 65 and older do so at least occasionally. College-educated and more-affluent smartphone owners are also especially likely to use their phones for navigation while driving. These groups are also more likely to own a smartphone.

A ‘Darker Narrative’ of Print’s Future From Clay Shirky

Margaret Sullivan:

You observed that print is responsible for the majority of ad revenues at the paper, but the disproportionate importance of print is not a signal of the robustness of the medium, it is a signal that advertisers have not found a way to replace print ads with anything as effective in other media.
 
 The problem with print is that the advantageous returns to scale from physical distribution of newspapers become disadvantageous when scale shrinks. The ad revenue from a print run of 500,000 would be 16 percent less than for 600,000 at best, but the costs wouldn’t fall by anything like 16%, eroding print margins. There is some threshold, well above 100,000 copies and probably closer to 250,000, where nightly print runs stop making economic sense. This risk is increased by The New York Times’s cross-subsidy of print, with its print+digital bundle. This bundle creates the risk of rapid future readjustment, when advertisers reconsider print CPM in light of reduced consumption and pass-around of print by all-access subscribers. (Public editor note: C.P.M. is the cost to the advertiser per thousand readers or viewers, a common measurement in advertising.)

Social Media and Car Dealers

Vindy Goel:

Although he plans to keep posting photos of happy buyers on Facebook and encouraging them to write reviews, he does not have much use for the rest of it — especially since Hyundai began charging $275 a month for the service.
 To Mr. Howell, selling a car boils down to one basic principle: Treat your customers well, and they will sing your praises to friends and family. “Those personal relationships are more important,” he said.
 Hyundai of Huntsville’s experience illustrates how far social media still has to go to serve small, locally focused businesses. While large companies have learned how to stand out on social networks and get lots of hand-holding from sites like Facebook and Twitter, most local business owners are left on their own and remain stumped by social marketing.

Weighing Privacy Vs. Rewards Of Letting Insurers Track Your Fitness

Christina Farr:

Would you be willing to hand over your health information to a life insurance company, in exchange for financial rewards?
 
 Activity trackers have become increasingly popular over the past few years, tracking everything from how many steps you walk, to your location throughout the day.
 
 Now, John Hancock, a U.S.-based insurer, hopes that fit and active people will exchange activity data for lower life insurance premiums and other perks. Those who sign up for this optional program, the first of its kind in the United States, will receive a free Fitbit device to track their activity levels.
 
 This program, announced Wednesday, may seem like a win-win: Insurers can sell their product to a new market of gadget-loving millennials and in return, healthy consumers can access steep discounts.