February 2007

To misquote Mark Twain , “There are liars, damn liars and real estate statisticians! ” I guess every person even related to real estate is awaiting the numbers due out today on January’s existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors. Analyst are predicting a slight increase over the rate of December’s numbers for previously owned homes sold. This would indicate the housing market is holding it’s own despite some concern in the sub-prime lending industry. However, even a strong showing doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is coming up roses.

Many economist say that last years numbers were increased due to a loosening of the wallet in the lending market. With investors nervous due to the risk of default in the sub-prime market, analyst are expecting the pendulum to swing the other way. So if you are using those numbers as a forecasting tool , you may want to subtract as much as 3% or more from that total! What’s a person to do ?

Put more tomatoes in the soup ! What ??? That’s right, you should be increasing the value you offer your customers !

But shouldn’t I be tightening the belt , cutting cost, preparing for the storm ??… Well I didn’t say spend more but it’s always time to spend more wisely. How are you using your current resources and time ? Still blanketing the supermarkets and community bulletin boards with your business cards and hoping someone will see you ? Nothing wrong with that but speaking of statistics , what percentage of people went to the supermarket hoping a real estate agent left a card ? ( I haven’t done the research but I’m guessing that number is pretty small.) Now by comparison, what do you think the people that went to the search engines and typed ” Homes in xyz ” were looking for ? It darn sure wasn’t bread and milk! With podcasting, video tours and other tools available from Real Estate Blog Marketing, it’s time to fish where the fish are ! Turnkey blog marketing programs are available which offer any level of hand holding . So , what are you waiting for , pass the tomatoes!

I just had a great conversation with some of the folks at Southwire, makers of the new patented FlatWire Ready wiring for home entertainment systems and flat speaker wire . I mentioned that this wire is available for speaker wire and electrical wire. I should mention that while this application is available for electrical wiring, it is currently only approved for low voltage wall sconces. Fortunately, you can find these beautiful and easy to install wall sconces at www.flatwiretv.com.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Builders Show and real estate blog marketing . I am hoping to run another series of articles on green building initiatives and new products for home owners.

As promised, this is the next installment of a series of shamlessly self-promoting interviews with myself.

Me: So , let’s get back to what makes an optimized blog from Real Estate Blog Marketing , optimized, different or better than a free blog.

Myself: Well it really depends on why you want a blog and what you want it to do. If you’re writing for Uncle Ned and Aunt Mable and not potential home buyers, I would imagine a free blog is just fine …but really , just how many homes can Aunt Mable buy from you? Coming from one of the world’s largest search engine marketing companies, we look at things differently. We have made over 80 plus changes or tweaks to our optimized blog so far and that’s only a small part of our service.

Me: How so ?

Myself: We’ve all heard the adage ” Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, Teach a man to fish and feed him for a life time.” Well if you consider a blog a fishing pole, we convert it into more of a net….and teach our clients where, how and when to throw it. By combining existing technology with creativity, our clients have a huge advantage over the competition. We teach them how to become a media and marketing company in their own right.

Me: By providing an optimized blog and also instructing clients with best practices, aren’t you as a media company ultimately putting yourselves out of business?

Myself: We don’t see it that way. When everyone else was attempting to understand Search Engine Optimization, Real Estate Blog Marketing already understood that it’s all about relevant content and determined that an Optimized Blog is currently the best vehicle to attract, manage and apply that content. We are already researching and testing new applications for Realtors in channels not even being discussed on technology message boards.

Me: Can you share some of the areas in which you are looking?

Myself(smiling):Not without killing you afterwards..We’re looking into a lot of things. Phillip Rosedale’s Second Life is an interesting channel and is being adopted by some pretty significant corporations like IBM, etc. They are generating a lot of new subscribers and have something along the lines of 600,000 sets of eyes a month currently. I know there were discussions about Second Life at the recent International Builders Show in Orlando but they( Second Life) still have a fairly high existing subscriber fall off rate. From a branding and market reach perspective , we want to see the same eyeballs visiting that channel over an extended period of time before recommending that to our clients. There is still too much low hanging fruit with existing channels to recommend something new to our clients just because it’s new.

Me: Like Real Estate blog marketing ?

Myself: I couldn’t have said it better myself.

More on this later

Yes, I know that I have promised the rest of the interview with myself but at the request of all of my adoring readers, I have been asked to write something of value first. ( Is that better mom? )

We’ve all heard that Patience is a virtue but what about it’s much maligned and oft- neglected first cousin from the other side of the tracks, Persistence?

…..Oh, you remember Persistence ..you know, the one that requires knowing your market and clients/prospects so well that you add value each and every time you contact them . The one that insist you keep up with and master the latest opportunities like local search for Realtors, blog marketing and real estate blog marketing programs so you’ll have a reason to contact them. Persistence is the one that has you scouring the web for the freshest ideas and information while your friends get to watch “Deal or No Deal “.

Untamed and unbridled, Persistence becomes that pesky, embarrassing relative causing us sales agents, a.k.a. , business consultants, sales reps, account executives, to rank somewhere between eel slime and an IRS auditor, as to whom most people would like to have a conversation.

Coupled with Value however, Persistence becomes a formidable ally in winning the hearts and minds of your clients and prospects by achieving their goals…and ultimately yours…or you can just go back to watching TV and let your competitors worry about all of the “new stuff”…I’m sure Howie will be calling any minute!

Part two of the interview with myself will return tomorrow.

After much cajoling, threatening and upon pain of withholding all deep fried food , I managed to get myself to sit down for the previously announced and much awaited interview.

I arranged to meet myself at Cup O’ Joe in Hillsborough, NC- a local hangout which has become a bastion for well known writers, poets and the father of two screaming kids who is trying to convince his wife that he’s a “writer” and not going there for the danish.

For the sake of clarity …and because I saw an Oprah interview in a magazine and they did it this way , I’ll put questions from me in italics and the response from myself in bold.

Me: Bruce is there anything off limits…topics we can’t discuss?

Myself(smiling): My pet iguana’s spending habits. Not willing to talk about that…and besides, he’s had his own blog for years.

Me: What makes Real Estate Blog Marketing experts in Real Estate?

Myself: If you’ll notice, our name is Real Estate Blog Marketing, not Real Estate Experts or Facts and Figures for Realtors—not that we don’t provide valuable information specific to the Real Estate and Home Building industry…just more from a marketing and emerging media perspective.
Me: So you don’t have a real estate background ?

Myself: Look , let me ask you something. Do you think Hendricks Motorsports hired Jimmy Johnson to drive the Lowes car because he is a home improvement expert? No …they hired him to drive because he could get to the finish line first. With the break-neck pace at which new technologies for real estate marketing are emerging, we saw a need for a firm which has a track record of success in new media in general and blog marketing specifically that realtors can count on. Many times we’ve seen real estate marketing companies heavy on real estate knowledge and traditional media channels like radio ,TV and print but are still trying to figure out things like local search , paid search and how to effectively use the web. Prior to starting Real EstateBlog Marketing, we were pioneers in the whole search marketing and interactive media industry.
Me: What exactly is a blog, how does it differ from a website and can’t people get one for free ?
Myself: Well, not to make you feel like an idiot but you’re writing in a blog. They can be very much like a website but are more immediate in nature and provide a vehicle which allows our clients to become publishers….not to mention instant feedback and market research.Procter and Gamble just launched two blogs for market research…The really cool thing is, if you can hunt and peck, you can blog! And while many of our clients had been writing volumes in their free unoptimized blogs before coming to Real Estate Blog Marketing, none of their blogs were impacting the search engines, developing leads or increasing brand awareness.Quite frankly their blogs were just not making money for them the way our optimized blogs have.A free blog is fine…as long as none of your competitors are utilizing an optimized blog .

Me: What makes your blogs optimized or different ?

Tune in tomorrow ( maybe ) for the exciting conclusion.

Patio Doors

OK , I know that I have promised an interview with myself but I had to cancel it at the last minute . ( I KNEW that was going to happen. )

I ran across an article that I found pretty alarming . I have two beautiful little girls at home ages 4 years and 5 months respectively. I grew up as the fourth child out of six kids by fairly strict and protective parents …of course by the time I came along my parents were no longer concerned that every scratch was a precursor to gangrene…..Don’t get me wrong , I still heard the normal ” Put a hat on , you’ll catch pneumonia…or if you keep crossing your eyes , they’ll get stuck that way!” ( They didn’t)

Enter the Grandchildren. Now my Mom has turned into the Safety Nazis. ” You know those balloon strings can strangle your kids or I don’t think she is dressed warmly enough.”

Her latest concern is the window blinds cords in our home . I just ran across an article from ” Parents for Window Blinds Safety ” which stated that there have been over 768 reported accidental strangulation deaths as a result of window blinds/shades cords since 1973 . Hard to believe ( and harder to admit ) but my Mom is right .

That’s why I was excited to see the new Designer Series by Pella Windows at the recent International Builders Show in Orlando. This new series by Pella has a between-the-glass feature that eliminates  the potentially hazardous hanging cord. I wasn’t sure if this feature was available for Patio Doors until I stopped by Pella’s Booth . Apparently this feature is available on pretty much any Designer Series by Pella. French Doors ( my favorite ) , Bay Windows and Bow Windows …Pella has pretty much insured I have no excuse the next time mom visits for her child-proofing house inspection….Gotta run…I think I hear someone with chicken soup in hand , Goose Stepping up to the front door!

After returning from a very exciting 63rd Annual International Builders Show in Orlando last week , it occurred to me to answer a question posed repeatedly by attendees ….” Now Bruce tell me again just what the @#!*%! do you do ? ”

Duh ! Being caught up in the excitement from all of the people I interviewed and new product demonstrations, I forgot to plug our own company, Real Estate Blog Marketing

Real Estate Blog Marketing is a division of Triangle Direct Media, a blog marketing company. We create innovative blog marketing programs as a cost effective solution to impact brand awareness , influence purchase intent and generate leads for Realtors , Builders and Developers .

Simple , huh ? Glad to have cleared that up ……Oh, still not clear? Well in that case you’ll have to stop by tomorrow ( or the next day….maybe ). I’m trying very hard to get an in-depth, shamelessly self promoting interview with myself. Stay Tuned !

Robert Sexton and Fred Martin

OK…I’ll be the first to admit, I find many things exciting and I am easily impressed. However I know I am the exception rather than the rule. So when I saw the throngs of people gathered around the Southwire exhibit at the International Builders Show, I assumed they must have scantily clad women manning the booth ……wrong! ( Not that there is anything wrong with that!)

The show stopper turned out to be a recent product innovation called FlatWire. Originally developed by Robert Sexton for his company DeCorp , Flatwire is a patented paper thin wire. Unlike round wire, Flatwire is wide and thin allowing safe and easy installation under carpet, tile, wallpaper and paint. Flatwire installs right on wall surfaces and becomes virtually invisible under compound and paint.

Since Flatwire is available for speaker wire as well as electrical wire, the applications are endless. Whether you need cable for home theaters , installing surround sound or wiring a garage makeover , FlatWire Technology by Southwire makes it a snap!

Wow ! That pretty much sums up my trip to the 63rd Annual International Builder’s Show.

I have enjoyed blogging from the show in Orlando but I wanted to recap the convention now that I am back in Raleigh, N.C.

There are several “wow” products/services that I want to mention due to the impact they are having on the building industry.

I had the opportunity to speak with CEO Robert Dahl of Duraban International , an EPA registered specialty chemical manufacturer. I initially wanted to talk with Robert about blog marketing but was so impressed with his product that my journalistic instincts took over! Utilizing molecular nanotechnology manufacturing, DuraBan’s proprietary and patented technologies deliver an economical and environmentally safe antimicrobial. The water based antimicrobial will not leach or wash off, is easy to apply and due to the revolutionary manufacturing process, affords a practically permanent antimicrobial and anti-bacterial protection on most surfaces. And since DuraBan’s products actually bond to most surfaces, the applications are practically unlimited.

Safe, affordable, durable and eco-friendly. Congratulations to Robert and his team for doing their part to preserve our planet for future generations while simultaneously protecting against mold, mildew and harmful bacteria.


Today is the last day of the 63rd annual International Builders Show in Orlando . With over a thousand exhibitors and hundreds of new and innovative products, its been difficult to see all of the “next big thing” type of products but a few have caught my eye. I noticed a crowd gathered around the Black and Decker Hardware & Home Improvement exhibit which includes Kwikset, Weiser Lock, Baldwin and Price Pfister.

With the introduction of SmartScan, Kwikset , a world leader in residential security has delivered the future now . SmartScan, the world’s first residential biometric keyless entry system is allowing homeowners the same level of security that until now was only available in government and commercial applications. Biometric Systems use a variety of methodologies based on a person’s physiological characteristics to authenticate a person’s identity . The best known being fingerprint recognition . However, this is not your father’s biometric residential security system!

According to Cheryl Kramp , Assistant Marketing Communications Manager for Kwikset, SmartScan has received an overwhelming positive response from builders, developers and homeowners here at the show. Said Kramp , ” I think everyone is concerned with additional safety measures these days and Kwikset is always researching ways we can provide the highest, most innovative and dependable level of security to our customers. ”

Homeowners now have the ability to access their homes with a swipe of a fingerprint. This decorative and stylish biometric deadbolt is virtually indistinguishable from a normal deadbolt system until you look “under the hood.” Designed to recognize over fifty user identities which the homeowner can easily program, this unit powered by four standard AA batteries has the added advantage of a special lock out feature. This allows three levels of access options. You can program SmatScan to allow 24/7 access for family members , temporary access for repairmen or contractors and time restricted access for housekeepers, babysitters and in my case , my daughter’s boyfriends.

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