Monthly Archives: December 2008

Epiphany from an admitted work-o-holic

goals2Work is a slice of life – not the whole pie. 

Yeah, it took me a while to get this. 

As many do this time of year, I am reflecting what’s happened in 08, what didn’t happen in 08 and what I want to will make happen in 09.

In no particular order, in 2009 I will:

  1. Raise at least $100k for a cause, or causes, that I think will help heal our world.
  2. Workout at least 2 times every week.
  3. Re-engineer my professional life (career) to focus around me, my skills and my goals. (I think I did this today, but more on that)
  4. Reconnect with 5 people that I love, yet have let slip out of my life.
  5. Treat myself to a deep-tissue massage quarterly.
  6. Go on vacation (ok, I’m cheating on that one, since I have my vacation booked in February).

Six is an odd number.  But to me these are the most important things I achieve in 2009.  It’s interesting that they almost all ‘me’ focused.  I believe if I work to be the best me, I will create the best world. 

Tell me, what are your top 3 goals of 2009?

Marketers evolve! (or you may perish)

Stenven Bonacorsi's Picassa Gallery

photo credit: Stenven Bonacorsi's Picassa Gallery

Change can be hard. It may be uncomfortable. Plus, as marketers we always want to recreate that big win – preferably by dusting off and repurposing something we’ve already done (why reinvent the wheel, right?).

However, everything old isn’t necessarily new again – particularly when your industry has disintegrated.

For over a decade, I’ve been a marketer in real estate/mortgage related businesses, in start-ups (SmartZip.com) and with the Big Guys (GE & Fidelity), B-to-B and B-to-C.

With real estate and mortgage businesses in a state of flux (how’s that for PR speak) change is essential so I may continue to grow professionally (not to mention keep a roof over my head).

The obvious first place to grow: Web 2.0.

People are flocking to blogs, social-networking sites and virtual worlds leaving a lot of marketers behind the curve. Think of it as a new way to engage, but you need to change your mind set and engage new principles to do it. Here are a couple tips:

Your customers expect to be part of the process
From product development to package design and communication – get your customers involved! Center your marketing strategies around building two-way relationships. Invite them to participate and provide feedback as much as possible.

Remember: They could be your future evangelists.

Don’t be a broadcast brand
Make your communications two-way. Listen more than you speak. How? Set up a mini site where you can talk to your customers and they can talk to each other! Ask for opinions on everything – and don’t edit! Poor feedback is where we learn the most, plus it’s more authentic when someone has contrary opinions. Asking your customers to build basic profiles is also a great way to understand your demographic and who you’re speaking to.

* Tip: you may learn as much from your customers conversations with one another than direct conversations.

Give them a real reason to participate
Is your customer at the center of the initiative? Are you thinking “what’s in it for them?” They are. Make sure they have a reason to participate: networking, Allow them to give their peers recognition for participation. That way it’s about them more than the company, which will endear you to them. And don’t forget your channel partners! Ask them to participate. Whether it’s contributing to your Wiki, or commenting on your blog.

Resist the urge to SELL
This will be the most difficult, since top line revenue from our programs is how we benchmark our successes (and justify our existence). Don’t beat your customers over the head with ads and marketing-speak. It will feel unauthentic to them, and they will form an adverse opinion. They want you to listen and consider their ideas, but not feel like fish in a barrel. As crazy as it sounds, embrace your community as a “no-marketing” zone.

You are not in control. Get comfortable with it
They’re your customers, not your children. You can not tell them how to respond or act (lewd or uncalled for behavior not withstanding). While as marketers it’s natural to want to steer the conversation back to our products/services – resist. Let the conversation flow freely – even when it’s (gasp) negative. Use a moderator to keep it clean and on course, but don’t control it.

The beauty is one strategy does not fit all and since these are web based, they are easy to deploy measure and change as needed. Test and learn. But most important – learn, or you may perish.

Home Buyer Tax Credit: How It Works

Source: Chicago Tribune, Mary Umberger (12/28/2008)

 

 

First-time homebuyers in 2008 can take an income-tax credit on their purchase, thanks to passage in Congress earlier this year of the first-time home buyer tax credit.

The definition of first-time homebuyer is generous. To get the credit, the homebuyer cannot have owned a home in the previous three years. The home must be a principal residence and purchased between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009.

The credit is equal to 10 percent of the purchase price, up to $7,500. Single taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income up to $75,000 and couples with MAGI up to $150,000 will qualify for full credit. Singles with MAGI up to $95,000 and couples with MAGI up to $170,000 will get a reduced amount. Those with higher incomes don’t qualify.

If the amount of tax a homebuyer owes is less than the amount of the credit, they get to keep the difference in the form of an IRS refund.

The homebuyer must begin to repay the credit in two years in increments of about $500 a year over a 15-year period for those who received the full credit

Homebuyers who sell their home before the credit is repaid must pay off the loan with any profits. If they sell the home at a loss, the loan is forgiven.

[Editor’s Note: The credit is set to expire in mid-2009, although industry groups, including the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, are encouraging Congress to extend it. NAR is also encouraging Congress to make the credit available to all buyers and to eliminate the repayment requirement. More detail on how the credit works is available from NAR on REALTOR.org.]

You can’t hide from your past … (or “If I new then what I know now”)

heartbreaker1My lifelong friend was a heartbreaker in her 20’s. 

She was never evil, or purposeful in breaking hearts – rather extremely beautiful and either romantically ADD or fickle.  I think it was the former.

About two months ago she joined FaceBook and has since had several blasts from the past.  One blast in particular is from a great guy, who after having his heart broken, went on to live a fantastic, exciting life AND somehow get much better looking with time (unfair!).  This has me wondering if the ability to reconnect so easily is a good thing, or could it cause us to question our choices and judge ourselves far more harshly in our more enlightened years?

Does the ability to benchmark our lives against some of the things we regret or wish we would have handled differently cause us to appreciate today less?  Or, would it be better easier if we could let the past lie in the past and never have to wonder if the one that just found us on FaceBook is the one that got away.

What do you think?

Meme: 7 things you didn’t know about Brandie Young

 

G R E A T – I was tagged by Thomas J Hall in his recent post regarding the 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Tom Hall.

I’m not too thrilled about it, not because I’m shy or secretive, but because I suck at keeping up a blog.  Yes, I have neglected it.  And now, my little secret will be exposed.  Drat.

Seeing as Tom included a set of rules, I supposed I must do the same.  Here they are …

The rules for these things are pretty simple in case you want to start your own meme: 

First, what is a Meme?  A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

To you fellow tagged friends, here are the rules – and you are to follow them and copy them into your corresponding post – if not, well, that would suck because I did it. 

Create a blog post with a link to the person(s) who tagged you.

  1. List these rules in your post.
  2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  3. Identify seven of your friends or contacts whom you will “tag” to be part of this meme. At the end of your post, list their names and the links to their blogs.
  4. Let the friends whom you tagged, know that they’ve been tagged.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Brandie Young

1. I have no middle name.  Seriously.  My middle name is the letter i.  Both my grandmothers have  (sadly, they are gone) had a middle name that started with the letter i.  Since my parents were going out on a limb with my first name, they had to pay respects somehow, thus the letter i.  (related:  Yes, Brandie is my real first name.  And, the ie at the end is a fun twist to ensure nobody ever spells it correctly.  It bothered me in my silly younger years.  In my sillier current years, I don’t care.)

2. I cry during during the national anthem, and while watching individual sporting events.  Always. 

3. I love a good fight in a hockey game. 

4. I am an only child. 

5. I am at heart a naive girl that believes we can save our world (community) and planet if we decide to do it.  I’m also a sucker for romance and will always believe in “happily ever after”.

6. I don’t believe in saving things for a special occasion.  I use my grandmother’s linen as much as I can (ok, the 2 times a year I cook) and what few pieces of china from her I have left.  Over the years I’ve broken a few pieces of her china, and cried each time.  Somehow to me I’d rather have used and broken it than kept it out of site – yet safe – in a cabinet .

7.  I was married for 3 months.  Really.  We were together for several years (through good times and bad).  He left me for someone else after we got back from our honeymoon.  My dad was is pissed, so no one is allowed to say his name.  I refer to him as “the one who’s name we are never to mention”. <—-p.s.  now in the CIA.

There’s a little something about me.  So, to keep it going, I will choose the following Twitter friends to share 7 things about themselves.  I’ve included a link to their Twitter profile and blog/site so you can get to know them:

Marissa Louie – she’s got the world on a string and I love her moxie
Pat Kitano – love what he’s doing to empower realtors and others
Aaron Wheeler – cool Realtor with an entrepreneurial drive
Paulo Elias – cool, smart web guy
Mike Neumann – lives in Texas (can’t hold that against him)
Mike Mueller – cool guy that’s focusing on social media/technology/real estate
Derek Overbey – can’t say enough about him – cool guy with a pimp hat!

 

Guaranteed to make you smile