An inside look at the success and growth of one of the nation's fastest-growing technology companies
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Saturday, April 29, 2006
HomePages on the Run
As the weather improves and the days grow longer here in the Pacific Northwest, the running community - including dozens from HouseValues - will come to life. Attend any organized race this spring and summer throughout the Seattle area - including charity walks, 5Ks and even marathons - and you're likely to see a shirt or two like this making its way towards the finish line, featuring our favorite home buying and selling Web site.
If you're interested in one of these HomePages running shirts (made with technical, wick-away fibers - just like the pros wear!), shoot me an email. We ordered a bunch for the HouseValues Running Club, and have a few left - especially if you might get your picture in Runner's World magazine or the local paper.
If you're in the Seattle area, come see us at one of the following events:
o Sunday, May 7 in Spokane – Bloomsday Run
o Sunday, May 14 in Kirkland – Kirkland Half-Marathon
o Sunday, May 21 from Husky Stadium – Nordstrom Beat the Bridge
o Sunday, June 25 at Madison Park – Fred Hutchinson Shore Run
o Sunday, July 9 in Bellevue – Seafair Marathon & Half-Marathon
o Saturday, July 29 in Seattle – Seafair Torchlight Run
o Monday, September 4 in Woodinville – Super Jock n Jill Half-Marathon
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Life Gets Better with The Loan Page
Earlier this week, we launched the "Life Gets Better" Sweepstakes across our mortgage sites and via an online marketing & advertising campaign. The sweepstakes offers consumers the opportunity to win up to $50,000 dollars to pay down their mortgage, fund a major remodeling project, or make the down payment on the new home of their dreams. The sweepstakes offers consumers the opportunity to enter once per day, increasing their chances of winning, and also provides easy access to competitive rate quotes and loan pre-approvals through our network of national mortgage partners.
The sweepstakes is being marketed across the Web - on Google, Yahoo, MSN and more to drive both sweepstakes entries and leads for our mortgage customers.
Check it out at http://www.lifegetsbetter50K.com.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Working with Amazon.com
HouseValues is now the Homes & Mortgages partner of the Amazon.com Financial Services section, including a broad selection of home buying & selling content on the site plus links for Amazon.com customers to research and apply for several home loan opportunities through TheLoanPage.com. This is the latest step in a growing marketing campaign for The Loan Page, which already features heavy integration on MSNBC and an extensive television ad campaign as well.
Marketing Lessons from a Police Ride-Along
Lessons to be learned in marketing, business and life abound almost everywhere. And until last weekend, I had no idea that law enforcement had so much to teach about marketing and leadership.
Check this out for some of my findings, and let me know what you think.
Monday, April 24, 2006
So many restaurants, so little time...
HouseValues Senior Media Buyer Jason Alfred has over 20 years of culinary experience under his belt, but moved to Seattle in late 2004 without his coveted kitchen gear. This forced Jason to eat out for almost every meal, giving him an understanding of the mid-range Seattle restaurant landscape that few other people had.
So what's a guy to do with all of that knowledge? Blog, of course!
Thus began Robotic Gourmand, Jason's well-visited site featuring great reviews and beautiful photos from restaurants around Seattle.
How does he do it?
"When visiting restaurants, while I primarily order food that appeals to me I also try and keep in mind what visitors to my site might enjoy from a particular restaurant," Jason says. "I use my cooking skills and abilities to break down how a dish has been prepared, the flavors that I taste, presentation and service.
"My goal is to provide both new-comers to Seattle, as well as natives, a resource that will help in decision making when it comes to dining out. With most dinners costing around $15 to $20 per person, finding the best places to spend one's dollar is very important."
He doesn't eat out for every meal anymore, but still posts 2-3 new reviews on Robotic Gourmand each week. Restaurants range from upscale to the unknown, hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese sandwich shop.
But regardless of the visit, readers can expect to see concise descriptions and clear photographs of great new eating opportunities.
Friday, April 21, 2006
A skeptic becomes a believer
I had to share this story from our seminar in Cleveland last week, as told to me by our national trainer Bruce Downs:
"One attendee stood up at the beginning of the seminar and shared with the entire group (mostly subscribers in attendance) that HouseValues was “ripping agents off,” further stating “none of the four agents in my office who are subscribing have ever had success with the leads” etc. etc.
I asked him if the other four agents were in attendance (they weren’t), and I proceeded to complement this person on his being willing to be at the seminar in light of his experience.
At the end of the day, he was a completely different person he thanked me many times over for opening his eyes and showing him how to incorporate all the tools in Market Leader into his entire business, and how success can be created with the leads."
I know I speak for our entire seminar team when I say that I find it personally rewarding when agents come to our seminars, and especially when they come back again and again to learn more. They appreciate the fact that we remember them. It makes HouseValues feel personal to them, and they are always willing to share their success with the other agents in the room. They all say they learn something new each time they attend.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
HomePages in Newsweek
If you haven't seen it yet, check out the full-page ad featuring HomePages.com in the front of this week's Newsweek print edition (page 7!). The ad promotes HomePages' exclusive relationship with MSNBC, driving traffic both to HomePages.com and to MSNBC's real estate section.
We've been running television advertising for HomePages for the past three months, but this step into print is big for us. Lots of subscribers very excited about this one.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Customer feedback on HomePages
Our customers are digging HomePages right now. The site is generating broader awareness among consumers (thanks to Newsweek, HGTV, the Associated Press and countless more), and it's starting to generate a considerable amount of new business and listings for customers. We're getting a faster flow of inbound HomePages customer comments now as well, and many are worth sharing:
“I’ve been a Showcase agent on HomePages for just a few months and I’m already three for three on my listings!”
- Kara Moll, RE/MAX All Properties, Frankfort, IL
“HomePages is the most exciting, effective way I’ve ever found to market my business and my listings. I’m now using it in my listing presentation and it has helped me win several listings I might have lost otherwise. HomePages is really the best way I’ve found to set me apart from my competition.”
- Staci Dancey, Century 21 Masters, Walnut, CA
“I love it! It is helping me close 100% of my listing presentations! Sellers benefit from the national exposure of their listings, while buyers find value in getting property and neighborhood information from the site. They also find comfort of using an extreme tech-savvy agent through HomePages!”
- Bryan Lazaroff, BuyAgent Realty, Acworth, Georgia
“I just returned from a listing presentation. HomePages was my close. I sold them on the buyers select neighborhood first and homes second. They loved the thought of folks being able to view the neighborhood before they move.”
- Don Allard, PLJ Inc Realty, Fridley, MN
“In the first week HomePages TV commercials aired, I got a call from a prospect and now we are closing on a home! My sales have paid for the subscription in my first month with HomePages! I was astonished at the quick response from this new product. Thank you for making my job a little easier, more productive and most of all profitable!”
- Pamela Haynes, Affordable Real Estate Solutions, Dallas, TX
“We found Pam on HomePages. She made our first buying experience a joy. If you want to find the home of your dreams and the person to make it happen, come to HomePages – you will not be disappointed! Thank you Pam and HomePages!”
- Terri Bearden, home buyer in Desoto, TX
“The featured home ads on HomePages help to strengthen my listing presentation. When setting an appointment over the phone, I invite potential home sellers to look up their listed home. Before ever meeting in person they are able to see how their home will appear on the site. I just converted a FSBO this way.”
- Alexander Chandler, Brants Realtors, Fort Worth, TX
“HomePages is a great way to appeal to both buyers and sellers. For sellers, their home will be featured as a major listing on one of the top Internet search engines. For buyers, this serves as a great tool to show them geographically where homes are in comparison to neighborhood attractions. The advanced technology on this site allows me to differentiate myself from other agents.”
- Michael Blower, Century 21 M&M, Stockton, CA
“The first email I sent describing the Marketing Power of HomePages secured me a listing appointment for a home in the $450,000 plus range!”
- Tina Whetsell-Mounger, ERA Top Producers, Knoxville, TN
“HomePages is the future of real estate. My listings are more visible as a result of marketing my business on my HomePages Web site!”
- Mark Norman, Weichert Realtors, Ridgefield, CT
“It’s a way to sell yourself, something different…it’s something that you have specific to yourself and something you can brag about and it’s something national so when your customers see a HomePages ad on the TV, they’re like, ‘Wow, I’m there!’”
- Sherry Daminski, RE/MAX, Stafford, VA
“I believe HomePages will be better than Realtor.com. HomePages gives better and more complete information of homes and neighborhoods. I can use it for recruiting, and as a listing tool.”
- Mary Stetson, Stetson Real Estate, Long Island, NY
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
States young and old...
The depth of information available to consumers online when making living decisions is enormous. On HomePages.com alone, literally millions of data points are searchable for consumers to determine the perfect place to live.
For example, which state in the union has the highest average age? You might guess states with heavy populations of retirees, but not quite.
Attached is a list of the top ten states by average age, topped by Maine.
Arizona doesn't even crack the top 10. Arizona, in fact, is the sixth youngest state in America. The youngest? Utah, with an average age of 27.35.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Find it on HomePages!
If you spend enough time looking at home listings and neighborhood photographs, you’ll find some interesting and unexpected things. People mowing their lawns. Cars caught draining oil onto the street as they drive. A traffic citation in progress. Kids making faces in the front window of their home (while the real estate agent takes the listing photo).
We’ve found a bunch of similarly interesting (and unexpected) things on HomePages. If you find them too, or find others, we’ll reward you with prizes. Here’s how it works:
Below is a list of things you could find on HomePages:
On Neighborhood Images
· A traffic citation in progress (with squad car lights flashing)
· An entire construction crew waving into the sky
· A baseball game in progress
· A birthday party in the park
· An accident on the freeway
In Home Listings
· Baby in diapers watching through the front window
· Lady in bikini standing on front porch (for curb appeal?)
· Man mowing front lawn
· Sunbather in back-yard photo
If you find these on HomePages, send the link to email@example.com. If you find other interesting things, send those too (and point out what you found interesting). Every entry we receive will be entered into a drawing for 10 Starbuck’s gift cards.
Start searching, and good luck!
A BBQ champion in our midst
At HouseValues, we already knew that we worked with some of the best and brightest minds in the Seattle area and in real estate. What we didn't know, until recently, is that we also work with a BBQ champion.
Carla Hadley works in our coaching and account management department, and for the past six years has competed internationally on the BBQ circuit. She's won several awards, including Party of the Year at the
American Royal last year in Kansas City (best among 450 competitors!), and this year will compete at the Memphis in May International BBQ Competition (known as the Super Bowl of Swine). In fact, several of Carla's HouseValues clients are traveling to Memphis to see her compete.
Last Monday, Carla pulled her BBQ pit up to the HouseValues parking lot and made pulled pork sandwiches. People are still talking about them.
Carla's BBQ has been so good, in fact, that Food Network came to Seattle a couple years ago to interview her for a BBQ special. Problem was, Carla got so flustered during the interview that Food Network wasn't able to use the interview in their program.
Enter Toastmasters. Through the HouseValues Toastmasters program, Carla has gained the confidence to speak publicly again. In Memphis next month, she's set up for another shot at that Food Network interview.
The stories go on and on. Carla and her BBQ crew annually cook approximately 550 pounds of pork (partially pictured above) as part of a charity event for the Market Foundation, benefiting the Pike Market in downtown Seattle. She also produces a weekly email newsletter, entitled Cooking with Carla, in which she shares recipes and cooking tips with her fans (Click here to sign up!).
Good luck, Carla, next month in Memphis!
Sunday, April 16, 2006
More happy HomePages customers
OK, this is a little self-serving, but we're so excited about the success our HomePages customers are having. Here's an updated online tour of how the product works for real estate agents. Here as well is the audio version. Both feature several customers sharing what they are already doing to win more business using HomePages.
If you're a real estate agent interested in building your business and winning more listings with HomePages, visit one of the links above or check out www.homepagesmarketing.com.
OK, off my soapbox now... =)
Friday, April 14, 2006
Doug Lofstrom, First Time Speaker
Yesterday afternoon, we were honored to have Doug Lofstrom in our office. Doug is a real estate agent with Windermere in Edmonds, Washington, and visited our office to talk with the staff about his experiences with HouseValues. What an amazing afternoon, an amazing story, and a truly amazing individual.
Doug joined HouseValues last August, and since that time has already had transactions representing more than $200,000 from his HouseValues subscription. In fact, his very first lead from HouseValues resulted in four transactions - a combination of the primary lead's home as well as the homes of family members.
Doug's story is truly inspirational. He was struggling with cancer and juggling career opportunities just four years ago. A year later he gave real estate a shot, and this year he is on pace to earn more than $300,000 in commissions. Next year he already has a goal of more than $500K in income.
And the kicker? Doug had never spoken publicly before yesterday. Based on the spell-bound HouseValues employees, you never would have known it.
Thanks again, Doug, for sharing your story and your passion with us.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Making Market Leaders
This email from a customer in Virginia was more than worth sharing. It's a great reminder that we're not just selling products, not just selling leads, not just selling CRM services. If we do our job right, we're selling success.
From: Holly Clark
Sent: Tue 4/11/2006
Since most of my emails are asking for help, I thought you would like to have one that shows my success from JustListed, HouseValues and HomePages.
We just had our Awards Banquets for my Office (which we are #1 in our market) my Association and all of ERA USA.
Well, you know I only use your product to conduct my business.
I WON Awards from all three companies!!!
I am in the Top 10% of all Agents in my Association for 2005
I am in the Top 5% of all Agents in my Office for 2005
I am in the Top 10% of all ERA Agents USA for 2005
I grossed over $100,000 for my first full year as an agent and sold over $5 Million from JustListed and HouseValues alone! THANK YOU HOUSEVALUES!!!
Plus -- for the first 2 months of 2006 I am within the Top 25 Agents for ERA in my Region!!!
My name has been in the paper, I have been getting calls to join committees, list homes (3 appointments this week alone). Other agents in my office are now asking more about JustListed, HouseValues and HomePages -- most of these people thought I was crazy for using the Internet to conduct my business, now they all want to know how I did it. :-)
Well, back to work I go, but I thought I would let you know I am grateful for all you do for me.
Have a wonderful day!
Holly Clark, Realtor
ERA OakCrest Realty Inc.
2045 Valley Ave.
Winchester, VA 22601
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
HomePages nominated for Webby Award
HomePages.com today was nominated in the real estate category for the 10th annual Webby Awards. Winners will be announced May 9 in New York City, with Rob Corddry of "The Daily Show" hosting a ceremony best known for limiting acceptance speeches to five words.
The "Webbies" have been called the "online equivalent to the Oscars" by the New York Times, but in true awards-season lingo, it's just an honor to be nominated.
See coverage of these awards here.
There's also a "People's Choice" portion of the awards - so vote early and often!