FALL SPECIALS – custom signs | video | web development

  • FALL SPECIALS –
    custom signs | video | web development

HI Everyone
These past couple weeks have been crazy…in a good way!
We’ve been launching our brand 939sign.com into a full media makers hub of media services!  Also today was my son’s first field trip in Kindergarten (no tears shed, phew!), and this past Monday, 939Sign.com and 939MakersHub launched its first video highlighting just some of our services, with more videos to come.
939 Sign along with 939MakersHub is now offering signs, websites, and videography.
Since I wrote about 939MakersHub last, click here, I know a lot of you are interested in how the launch is going, which is the opening of our co-working community offering over 10,000sq feet of space to bring in the top designers, web developers, sign makers, professional videographers and vehicle wrap specialists!
It was a soft launch (meaning no huge campaign besides an email broadcast to subscribers and social media sharing), but I’m very happy with the results so far! Over the course of 5 days, The 939MakersHub has signed  top web developers, sign and vehicle wrap specialists in addition to an amazing videographer. 10,000 square feet is now dedicated to your sign manufacturing, web presence and media needs.
I’m excited to go over the details with you in the near future, and I’m excited for more aggressive campaigns to spread the word about 939MakersHub, such as webinars and paid advertising. Because 939MakersHub will have the space to build and execute some of the San Francisco Bay Area Premier Signage and Digital Media Signage. I’m excited to add the 939MakersHub to our existing 939Sign brand.
More on that soon. 
In other news, I wanted to make sure you caught the latest episode of The 939MakersHub Web Series as Ray talks with AJ.  A.J is a father of two, wake boarding fanatic and videographer.  A.J. and Teal Star Productions offers some of the San Francisco Bay Area Premier Video Services such as; corporate training videos, weddings, real estate marketing videos as well as social media management, Learn more about AJ and his video services, click here
Several people have emailed me to let me know our last piece regarding Virtual Assistants was their all-time favorite post so far. So if you haven’t checked it out here, here’s a convenient link for you below:
I also try and be very active in the comment section if you have any questions or comments. 
Have an amazing rest of the week, and be sure to follow me on Facebook to see updates about the community driven 939MakersHub offering custom signage, video services, websites and more..

Make it a great day!

Ray
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This email is being sent to you because you subscribed to or have done business with 939 Sign Graphics and Marketing Studios RealEstateSignSupplies.com, 939Hub.com or our studios in Walnut Creek, Ca. off N.Main Street.

How Virtual Assistants Gave Me a Life Again!

  • How Virtual Assistants Gave Me a Life Again!

HI Everyone,
When I first started as an entrepreneur 10 years ago I constantly asked this question of other entrepreneurs :
“Knowing what you know now, if you had to start over again what would you do differently?”

However, over the past several years I’ve noticed people now asking me that same question and my answers are slightly different, perhaps more tech oriented.

There are, of course, several things I would do differently, but my top two answers are always this:
1. I would start building my  “client list” right from the start; and
2. I would have stopped trying to do everything myself.
#1 is easy!  Start an email list as soon as you can. I didn’t, and I missed out on several people who would have been interested in my services and products.
#2 – Stop trying to do everything myself  –  allow me to elaborate on this.
When I was first starting out, I wanted to do everything myself. Everything. I thought it was a necessary sacrifice as an entrepreneur to fill all of the roles required of my business – so I tried to figure it all out on my own. All of the technical stuff. I did all of the design work. I tried to figure out all of my quickbooks. It was stressful, it wasn’t very fun and I wasn’t spending as much time doing what I really wanted to do, which was interacting with my customers.
After learning the hard way; I primarily learned from the example of others, that instead of trying to do everything, take advantage of Virtual Assistants for work that you either don’t know how to do, or don’t want to do, to those that enjoy and excel at those specific functions.
Often times, those specialists can do those things much better and faster than we can. Whether it’s part-time or full-time work,  virtual assistants (VAs), a website where you can find hired help for one-off tasks, or even just asking a family member, friend or colleague for a favor; allowing people to help will rapidly accelerate the growth of your business.
I will tell you, however, that even though I eventually learned about VAs and asking for help, I still was quite reluctant at first. It took me a while to get used to the idea of “handing off my baby” to someone else. Whether it was it was a trust issue, or stubborn pride getting in the way, it felt counter intuitive at first to let someone else do the work that I thought I should be doing.
Now, I currently run my business with the help of multiple VA’s, and several “experts” who are on call when I need specific things done. For example, a graphic designer when I need some graphic work done, or a quick books assistant for my quarterly taxes.
Here are a few resources that I’ve used in the past  to locate virtual assistants and other services for tasks.

www.guru.com
www.fiver.com
www.taskrabbit.com

I hope this helps!  Wishing you all the best
-Ray

Tech Tip : Marketing on Facebook

  • Tech Tip : Marketing on Facebook

HI  Everyone

Tech Tip:  Marketing with Facebook

Facebook Marketing is low hanging fruit. Discovering information which is most important to your network and applying it in positive ways to earn trust and build history with clients is a must.

Facebook is a invaluable tool to help you expand your practice for  Marketing. It allows you find at a glance what moods, interests, and current life changes people in your community are experiencing.

If you are friends with clients and prospects on Facebook, you have access to a tons information which you can use to increase the the knowledge of information regarding your contacts.

By spending a few hours a month on Facebook, you can not only engage people in conversation, but you can also use information you find there to add notes about people you hope to do business with in the future. Status updates, wall posts, and friend lists provide a priceless of information.

Once you’ve put together information about your clients and prospects, YOU HAVE TO utilize that information to enhance the relevancy of future communication.

By tailoring your communication around prospects’ interests, you not only grabs their attention, but reinforce your position in their mind as a thoughtful, helpful resource.

Here’s a list of some pretty valuable insights you could lean from a prospect’s Facebook page:

  • Birthdays
  • Aspirations & goals
  • Spouse / children
  • Upcoming vacation plans
  • Pets
  • School networks
  • Hobbies
  • Favorite sports teams
  • Other people they know
  • Life changes (births, deaths, graduations, new jobs)
  • Political interests & affiliations
  • Local community connections
  • Professional affiliations
  • Upcoming leisure activities (weekend plans, etc.)
  • Volunteer organization affiliations
  • Favorite restaurants

Happy Wednesday

-Ray

Terrible Real Estate Agent Marketing Blunders for your Wednesday Hump Day

  • Terrible Real Estate Agent Marketing Blunders for your Wednesday Hump Day

HI Everyone,

The team here at 939 Sign Graphics and Marketing Studios likes to have an occasional laugh at marketing blunders.  Normally we are focused on useful tools and tips you can use to improve your business and your quality of life. But sometimes we come across marketing mishaps that we just have to share! 

Here is a little something for you on “Hump Day”.  We labeled this one under “Boost you Self Confidence and Look at the Marketing Mishaps of Others! ”Don’t say we never did anything for you”:
Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs.

Consider this a collection of “What not to do”. Property photos so bad you’ll literally be ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing).
With a classic gem like the used mattresses hanging out in the pool, these property photos are surely the worst of the worst.

Read the captions!

Some select gems:

“This property features a fully fitted kitchen, as viewed here by a drunk man lying on the floor.”
http://terriblerealestateagentphotos.com/post/41604473796
“So you take photo’s of your own listings, tell me more about what an amazing photographer you are”
http://goo.gl/Y9daIc
“You just can trust a picture these days”
http://goo.gl/Tbj8Wg

Time for a recharge on your hectic Wednesday!

http://terriblerealestateagentphotos.com/

Happy Wednesday

-Ray

JasonsHouse.com the airbnb of the Real Estate Sales Industry?

  • JasonsHouse.com the airbnb of the Real Estate Sales Industry?

HI Everyone, have you heard of Jason's House?

Jason’s House: A New Real Estate Model?

Technology continues to change the face of traditional services, it seems there’s always a fresh attempt to innovate (or disrupt) traditional real estate buying and selling services.  If you take a brief moment to scan craigslist.com it seems as though all the new .com companies are slowing picking off each craigslist category.

Is Real Estate Services next?

From discount brokerage services like ziprealty.com to shifts in the way agents secure leads, many players have entered the space with the hopes of revolutionizing the industry.Image of Jason's House logo

However, the traditional real estate model persists. As much growth as it seen (and more people are joining the industry day by day), it’s critical to keep an eye out for emerging companies. One such company is “Jason’s House.”

Branding itself as “an entirely new marketplace for real estate service,” the company claims to be a “unique marketplace” and “better way to find an agent.”

Check out these remarks from the company: “Receive bids from local real estate agents based upon your exact needs. No more wasting time and money overpaying for real estate services.”

The site also claims to be a good way for agents to find qualified leads. From the agent-side:

“Tired of deals falling through? Jason’s House makes it easy for you to choose the buyers you want to work with. Not the escorting type? Jason’s House provides you with the flexibility to cater to the home buyers you can help the most.”

Will it revolutionize the real estate industry?

It’s too early yet to say. But it’s a good idea to at least be familiar with these services whether or not you’re on board.

Happy Tuesday

-Ray

Ray’s 3 Options for Your Own Professional me@mywebsite.com Email Address

HI  Everyone!

Happy Wednesday, over this past weekend I was working with some clients and the importance of email addresses came up. In this newsletter I am going to cover 3 options for your own professional me@mywebsite.com email address. 

Take a minute and think "what does you email address say about you?"

Consider your inbox. You have six new emails from strangers, with the following email addresses:
  1. bieber667@aol.com
  2. bill@billwaldon.com
  3. res26mdds@sbcglobal.net
  4. tommfs1982@hotmail.com
  5. christina.alvarez@gmail.com
  6. michael.singh@stanford.edu

Which of these people do you expect has a website? Which do you suspect clicks a lot of animated banner ads? Which ones do you anticipate having the most succinct, well-written message?

Call it stereotyping. Call it filtering. But based on these six email addresses, I know:

  • Bill, Verdun and Christina’s names.
  • tommfs1982 is probably 31 years old.
  • res26mdds is (in my opinion) a sucker for using SBC’s email, because it makes him less likely to switch to another provider.
  • The AOL user either likes Justin Bieber or has a name like Bill Ieber
  • Michael Singh goes to Stanford, or works there in some capacity.

Regardless of someone’s email address, you are likely to open and read most of these emails. It’s a pretty low commitment.

Based on just their email addresses, I start with mildly positive impressions for Bill, Christina and Verdun. I start with mildly negative impressions for the other three. All that may change once I start reading — but only if I start reading.

Considering it takes little time to setup a email like Ray@mywebsite.com  wouldn’t you give yourself a better chance at being read?  I have put together a brief tutorial on

Ray’s 3 Options for Your Own Professional me@mywebsite.com Email Address

“What’s your email address?”

That question may be even more important than, “What’s your website address?”

Your email address is how potential customers, business partners or employers will communicate with you. What will they think if it’s iheartbieber@yahoo.com or stuckinthe90s@aol.com?

No! You need a professional me@mywebsite.com email address. In this article, we’ll tell you the 3 options for your own personalized, professional email address.

Option 1: Self-hosted email

Web hosting companies typically include email hosting in their packages. If you already host your own website, you can also host your email there at no extra cost. The exception is managed hosting companies like Synthesis who don’t provide email hosting at all.

Self-hosted email - email is hosted on the server

When you host your own email, the web server for example.com also accepts emails touser@example.com. The user would then retrieve the email from the server.

This option allows you to create as many email accounts as you need, so self-hosted email is a good option if you need more than one address. You can either send and receive your email through an application like Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail, or through a simple webmail interface.

I would advise using a desktop email client with the IMAP protocol for best results. You should also regularly backup your email, just like you need to backup your website.

Pros

  • Included in your web hosting plan at no additional cost
  • Easy to setup
  • Easy to setup to forward to GMail, Outlook, Etc.

Cons

  • If your server experiences downtime, both website and email are affected.
  • The email mailboxes contributes to the disk space for your hosting account.
  • Expect less than great support from your web host for email-related issues. Email is a secondary product which may not be high on their list of priorities.

Option 2: Redirect to webmail

The 2nd option is to use your web hosting only as a forwarder to redirect emails to your webmail service (e.g. Gmail / Yahoo / Outlook.com). This diagram explains how this works.

Redirect to webmail - email forwarded to webmail

Emails to user@example.com are received by the server which then forwards them to the user’s webmail account. The user then retrieves the email from his webmail account. The user can configure his webmail to send emails as user@example.com – yes, even for Yahoo and Outlook.com!

This is a great option if you only need a small number of email addresses. You also wouldn’t need separate logins for your webmail and professional email. You can also redirect general email addresses (e.g. customerservice@example.com) to your webmail.

Pros

  • Use your favorite webmail service to send and receive your professional emails.
  • No need to worry about email backups on the server.

MS Outlook tells recipients the email was sent via your webmail

Cons

  • If your server experiences downtime, you will not be able to receive emails unless sent directly to your webmail address.
  • Email recipients will see that your email was sent via your webmail service unless you take a few extra steps.
  • Doesn’t scale well if you need multiple accounts for additional team members.

Note: It is possible to have Gmail fetch your email from external accounts but I find this solution to be sub-optimal. This is because Gmail only checks for new emails every 15 minutes. There are hacks to get around that, but they are usually rather complex to setup.

Update: We have published 2 KB articles on how to use Option #2 with Gmail and Yahoo:

  1. Setup Gmail to send email from a different address
  2. Setup Yahoo! Mail to send email from a different address

Option 3: 3rd-party email provider

The final option is to use a dedicated email hosting provider for your email. Dedicated email hosting services can provide better features and support compared to free webmail services. Many also offer collaboration features like calendars and full-blown office suites.

3rd-party email provider - email doesn't even land on the server

With a setup like this, emails to user@example.com do not even land on the web server. MX records at the DNS level tell the emails that they should be routed directly to the email provider’s servers. This option can serve a single mailbox for yourself, or for your entire organization.

Personally, this is the option I recommend even for those who only need a single email address. However, you can set things up so you can send and receive from multiple domains into a single inbox, so with 1 login you can be me@mywebsite.com andme@anotherwebsite.com.

The biggest benefit: Unlike the other options, your email is not a secondary or free product. If your email is mission-critical, you need a dedicated email host that is accountable and responsible for your email.

Pros

  • Email unaffected by web server downtime
  • You can choose the best solution for your requirements

Cons

  • An additional cost for your business
  • Slightly more complicated to setup

Choosing an email host

There are lots of options for email hosting. Fastmail provides an email-centric offering which is easy to setup and use. Many businesses also use Microsoft Exchange, another email-centric offering. Domain registrars like Hover and GoDaddy also offer dedicated email hosting. On the other end of the scale are full-blown office suites like Google Appsand Office 365.

In my experience, many people find Google Apps confusing. They end up with multiple Google Accounts (personal and work) and get their logins mixed up – “Did I upload that video to my personal YouTube or the work YouTube. I didn’t even know there was a difference!”

Microsoft Exchange usually involves high costs and a “IT guy” who takes care of the servers, though I think companies like Rackspace and GoDaddy are trying to simplify things with their Hosted Exchange product. Either way, find someone who understands how mail servers work and engage them to help manage and administer things if you go with Google Apps or other enterprise-level solutions.

If you’re a small business who wants dedicated email hosting but to keep things as simple and affordable as possible, I can’t recommend Fastmail enough. They’re easy to understand, have a great product and are much simpler to setup and manage. I have used Fastmail to manage email for 5 different domains (!) for 3 years now and am extremely happy with my decision to go with them.

Finally, keep in mind that you can mix and match the 3 options above. So you could have 1 mailbox with Fastmail for the really important stuff, and forward the less important emails to Gmail. (I do this as well).

If email is important to you, you owe yourself to find a reliable and professional email solution.

And finally, I leave you with this comic from The Oatmeal: What your email address says about your computer skills. Know a friend with an email address like rockmysocks@hotmail.com? Maybe you should send them a link to this article.

Thanks for reading !

– Ray

Building a Client Fan Base

I hope your having an enjoyable day.  Here’s another marketing & signage tip that I’d like to share with you.🙂
It’s no secret that one of the best ways to build a successful brand is to build a community. Enriching peoples daily life’s by creating a community of knowledge and influence.
Some people call it your “Fan Network“, which makes perfect sense.
As you start to build your fan network, you’re going to notice that there are a few people that seem to go above and beyond to support you.
Perhaps they are consistently leaving remarks on your real estate blog.
Maybe they’re always sharing your “Open House” posts and “New Listing” posts on Facebook and twitter.
As a customer, maybe they have left testimonials on your webpage or even referred a buyer or seller..
Call them what you want – supporters, zelics, the top 1%, your best clients and supporters…
If someone is going out of their way to help you and your brand, they should absolutely be rewarded.
Why is this important?
Well, of course there’s the whole karma thing – I mean, they helped you so they should be recognized, right?
But there’s a lot more to it!
  • You want them to continue to be super supporters – and if they’re recognized for all they’re doing for you, you can be sure they’ll continue to do it in the future

 

  • Other people start to see the recognition; perhaps a client appreciation night to the movies, a simple thank you posted on their FaceBook page

 

  • Most importantly, it shows your entire community of clients and supporters that you care
So, what kinds of things can you do to pay your top supporters back?
Here are a few examples that I can think of:
On your real estate blog, a simple reply to a good comment can go a long way. Also, if you really wanted to take it a step further, remember who they are and send an old fashion thank you post card.
If you have a supporter that is constantly referring you and your business send them a gift certificate and recognize there contributions in a crowd.
Social media platforms are also great for recognition and paying it forward. On Twitter, I like to retweet tweets from those who I know have helped support or refer me in some way.
Recently I installed an application on FaceBook called Top Fans by Booshaka.com, which allows me to see who is most active on my Facebook Page and I can even recognize the top 10 fans publicly on the page as well, which is pretty powerful.  This really helps me see who has shared my 939 Sign Graphic & Marketing Studio specials with colleagues .  Recently a yard sign special I posted on Facebook was shared by a top client.  Because of the application I was aware of the sharing and was able to thank them for the referrals with a gift certificate for 5 free real estate signs.
Sometimes all that your supporter or client needs is a little recognition.
Hopefully you found this helpful! and until the next newsletter, make it a great day!
-Ray
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