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June 13 2011

Exhibit A

We recently stumbled across a QR code success story that is a perfect example of effective, consumer-oriented marketing.

Based out of Birmingham, Alabama, a broker named Charita Cadenhead was struggling with a way to entice open house attendees to sign the log-in sheet.  So, she created and began distributing double-sided sign-in cards.  Each card had places for contact info on the front and instructions for downloading a “QR reader app” on the back.

After filling out the card and returning it to Charita, each attendee received a “One Day Sale” QR code coupon to scan.  And for the first time in Charita’s career, everyone who attended her open house signed in without hesitation!

This is a great example of QR code usage in real estate on several fronts:

1. Solves a Problem – Having troubles getting attendees to log their contact info at open houses, Charita let technology step in.  By implementing her campaign with a fantastic call to action, she was able to overcome the ‘privacy issues’ hurdle and connect with her market’s tech savvy homebuyers.  Like any good carpenter, Charita let the tool do the work for her to solve a problem.

2. Call-To-Action – Too often, QR codes will just lead to contact info or property info that was already available on the media it was just scanned from.  In this case, Charita used a coupon giveaway to create value; a special, otherwise inaccessible offer available only to those who took the time to sign the cards.

3. Clear Instructions – Unfortunately, a limitation we are currently facing in QR code adoption is the lack of inherently supportive mobile handsets.  Many phones in Asia have been hard-coded to read and scan QR codes.  In America, the handsets are not quite to that point yet; QR interaction still requires the download of a “QR reader app”.  Aware of this issue, Charita printed clear, easy-to-follow instructions on the back of each sign-in card.

4. Mobile Optimized Landing Page – Charita also paid attention to the post-scan consumer experience by creating a “special Postlets page”.  The QR code did not lead to her existing agent website or property search, but to a mobile-ready site that was created specifically for her open house marketing campaign.

Taking the time to construct your QR campaign correctly will open the door to interaction with homebuyers through the mobile medium they prefer.  And as you can see, proper implementation of QR code technology can also help overcome some of the adoption hurdles we currently face here in the U.S.

April 15 2011

The New Marketing Ecosystem

There are several valuable data points contained within comScore’s 2010 Mobile Review, but the one that hit home with me involves ‘social networking ecosystems’.  The first few sections of the report illustrate the expected mobile metrics: rise in smart phone users along with rise in mobile media access, Europe hosts a more developed mobile market than U.S., and so forth.  But at the end of a paragraph about smart phone buyer criteria, comScore re-branded a concept we’ve been discussing since 2008:

“Smartphone users are increasingly sophisticated consumers who are looking not just for a phone, but for a device that is part of a larger ecosystem that provides a complete mobile experience, including apps, music, and video.”

I remember the day in 5th grade when the concept of nature’s ecosystems finally hit home with me.  We were discussing swamps and I remember the moment of enlightenment during which I grasped the scope of an ecosystem – an unending list of seemingly independent parties (frogs, snakes, or, for the sake of this discussion, networks like Facebook and Twitter) that only achieve success by working together in concert.  When one of the parties is taken out of the environment, the rest will either fail or fill in the missing component with a like-minded organism.  Cohesion between organisms ultimately begets a rounded and functional living environment.

This idea is easily applied to social networking.  At this point in the networking realm, those without blogs are behind the curve.   Likewise, the very consumers they serve are leaving those who deny the important role technology should hold in their business model behind. So let’s assume that the majority of profitable agents today maintain some degree of a social network.  I don’t need to reiterate the importance of transparency and the Golden Rule, and I don’t need to re-hash why you should have a profile on multiple networks pointing to a central hub, etc.

I also don’t need to discuss the prevalence of mobile technology and the consumer demand for mobile information retrieval, but I will.  As detailed in comScore’s report, approximately 1/3 of all U.S. mobile subscribers have an unlimited data plan.  While the U.S. market is behind Europe and Asia in terms of new tech adoption, 18-34 year olds make up 43.9% of mobile subscribers in America.  Traditionally, this age bracket has been known for texting (SMS), emailing, and requesting mobile information to a higher degree than the rest of U.S. subscribers.  comScore also reports that 68% of mobile users in the U.S. named ‘SMS’ as their top mobile activity.

I will also stress the importance of utilizing relevant technologies to communicate with potential buyers and, at the very least, get them plugged into the rest of your social networking ecosystem.  To enjoy the fruits of an effective networking strategy, you must establish a transparent message that is verbalized through content syndication, as well as maintain ‘points of entry’ so the public can easily access your ecosystem.

As Joel Burslem says in his post for 1000Watt, an effective online marketing strategy will reward the viewer for their click-through by providing an applicable, media-rich experience.  In the past, online advertisements such as banner ads have been used to drive traffic to agent websites and blogs.  At this point in our internet arena, the click-through rates for email and online ads are suffering.  SMS and QR codes are the avant-garde technology, the “shortest distance between curiosity and info retrieval”, according to comScore.  The click-through rate for SMS is staggeringly high, and therefore can be effectively used to drive traffic into your existing ecosystem.  Standalone SMS advertising is debatable in its effectiveness, but when used in concert with the rest of your marketing SMS advertising is all part of a complete ecosystem.

The methods consumers rely on to request and access information are continuously evolving.  The need for audiences to be rewarded for their time, however, will never change.  comScore has this to say:

“But in order to establish the mobile channel as a legitimate advertising medium, all parties require access to [a] transparent measurement of the mobile ecosystem.”

Cohesion between mediums ultimately begets a transparent and valuable social networking ecosystem.

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