And I think to myself,
what a wonderful word.

Engage. Inspire. Motivate.

Let us engage you on a journey through a world of creative, inspirational storytelling that motivates us to expand our minds, build on our experiences and humanize the branding process.

<h3>The adventure is planned, bags are packed with all the road trip accessories, GPS, and we are ready to go on an inspiring Road Trip.  A Road trip is a favorite family-type vacation, and trip effects were bonding and forging close friendships are a reality.  It is often referred to as the "Summer Camp Effect," where you are cooped up in less-than-comfortable accommodations with individuals you barely know, you know too well, or do not know at all. Yet, at the end of summer, you've developed a lifelong friendship, loving that we get to experience new acquaintances and strengthen old ones.</h3>

<h2>We're Off!</h2>

<p class="has-drop-cap">No matter your destination, whether it be The Road to Hana, The Blue Ridge Parkway, Route 66, or California 1, you want it to be memorable and comfortable. Although I could feel the summer's heat against my skin, there was a cool breeze coming through my open window. I loved having my hair was pulled back in a messy bun tied with a broken hair tie. I was wearing draw-string linen pants with a black camisole and oversized hooded top, knowing that wrinkles and coffee stains were sure to be a part of my wardrobe along the way, you know, saving the best outfits for the destinations. We churned quickly past big trucks whose massive tires howled with the scream of stressed rubber dying away and thin drifts of moving smoke behind them. Big rigs are thundering down the highway, and I anticipated the nearby back roads' slower pace.</p>

<blockquote class="wp-block-quote is-style-default"><p><em><strong>Maybe something catches your eye out the window like a giant majestic Oak; I have always felt drawn to these magnificent and century-old trees. I always felt as if they were a bodyguard. The thick hard trunk was like a shield protecting from imaginary foes and the million branches protecting from everything above. These beauties were considered a stop-the-car photo opportunity.</strong></em></p></blockquote>


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<p class="has-text-align-left">Everyone in the car started to belt out the lyrics "Don't stop believing" and making giddy minor dance moves. We were on the country roads, with very little traffic, beautiful scenery, and the feeling of freedom. It's the unexpected journey that makes it memorable. Taking the scenic route, roadside diners, visiting weird roadside attractions like the one last summer. Remember, "The Museum of Everyday Life" in Glover, Vermont. The museum of the mundane and familiar, self-serve, make any donations at the door and turn the lights off when you leave. On this gorgeous sun-filled day, while performing my duet with Steve Perry, it was not an unusual museum; I was looking for it was another must-see attraction, The General Store.  According to GPS, we were not far from Bessie's Ole Country Store. Plan to stock up on road trip snacks and soda from any gas station or convivence store; it is what we love about road trips—excited to enjoy popcorn, pretzels, old-fashioned candy, lollipops, Root Beer, and oh yes, chocolate milk, chocolatey goodness that allows you to feel like a kid again.  The honeybun, the fried yeast pastry, contains honey and a swirl of cinnamon in the dough and topped off with confectionery icing. We all know Honeybuns are bad for you, but if you only eat them once on a road trip, it's okay, so indulge in the most basic ingredients of appetite satisfaction.</p>

<h2>Boredom Buster</h2>

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<p>Road Tripping Expert to have this distinguished title. It's all about the entertainment aspect of the trip; whoever is the party planner of your group should be the entertainment organizer—fun, exciting, daring, and inspirational entertainment that never dulls the senses. The perfect entertainer will have a top road trip playlist with everyone's favorite songs, including a corny sing-along like 99 bottles of beer on the wall, and guess that song. Fun and competitive games like Trivia, Mad-Libs, I Spy, the license plate game, and Twenty Questions, for example, what would you buy first if you won the lottery? Stretching your legs is a must and was planned by this individual too. They would always have significant little roadside areas with picnic tables near a small stream where you could watch and enjoy babbling and burbling water spring over limestone rocks or scenic parks to enjoy a quick hike, play a sport or just explore. Maybe something catches your eye out the window like a giant majestic Oak; I have always felt drawn to these magnificent and century-old trees. I always felt as if they were a bodyguard. The thick hard trunk was like a shield protecting from imaginary foes and the million branches protecting from everything above. These beauties were considered a stop-the-car photo opportunity.</p>

<p><strong>During a road trip, there will be several times that you will see a sunrise and sunset, and your entertainer is aware of these phenomenal happenings and plans for everyone to take time out of the day to experience and enjoy both. With all this fun, we have failed to mention electronics, so many numerous activities with a podcast, game apps, blogs & reviews, movies on your -Pad, and social media, but make no mistake, a perfect planner will also have you writing a journal about the most memorable part of your journey. An essay about your experience, how you slowed down and moved through the world to experience it firsthand, and it's okay if you are not that great at writing, remember it is your experience and for your eyes along. So, if all you said was my most memorable moment was when I realized I had forgotten to put on sunblock, and all I had was a one-armed sunburn to show for it, we would kind of know just what you're talking about.</strong></p>

Things we love about Road Trips

The adventure is planned, bags are packed with all the road trip accessories, GPS, and we are ready to go on an inspiring Road Trip.  A Road trip is a favorite family-type vacation, and trip effects were bonding and forging close…
<h3>An unmistakable look, taste, feel, flavor, or sound. A brand that finds its way above and beyond just gaining respect and becoming successful. An item, a person, place, or something that grows to become woven into the thread of pop culture and society. A true American original. Whether we're talking about a product, a company, a concept, or a brand, it's pretty hard to beat a trendsetter. </h3>

<p class="has-drop-cap">Just indulge in the thought briefly, how often does a second attempt, a sequel, or some type of re-creation of a highly successful or iconic person, place, or thing surpass its predecessor? Despite, in most cases coming from the same minds or brain trust that delivered that first offering that resonated so deeply with the public, a second "act" rarely equals or outdoes the original. </p>

<p>However, two competitors that even these "kings" of all brands should keep in their crosshairs, as history has shown. One of these "competitors" is themselves and recognizing when whatever industry they are in is changing and evolving. The other competition can be the death nail in a brand if the company fails to see it coming and allows for it to pass right on by.</p>

<p>That competitor is time. Once time passes, a brand by, and they did not see it coming and evolve, even in the cases of some of America's most iconic brands, its game over.</p>

<h3><strong>Retail Kings for a Day (Well Actually Like 100 Something Years)</strong></h3>

<p>Icon. The word is defined as a symbol—someone or something that stands for and represents their industry or profession. In the world of retail, where we now think of Wal-Mart or Target as iconic, there once were other brands synonymous with what became the department store. Likewise, these too were threads in the fabric of American society and, no question, iconic brands. But just as we forewarned above, evolution and time is a formidable opponent and as newer model stores began arriving with lower prices and more modern shopping methods became the norm, these retail icons found themselves a thing of the past</p>

<p>I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if you are 40 or older, you remember circling all the toys you wanted for Christmas in the Sears "Wish List" catalog. Likewise, if you are in your thirties or younger, you may ask, "What is a catalog?" This analogy sort of starts painting the picture to explain what happened to Sears Roebuck and Company.</p>

<h3><strong>From "Number One" to All but Done</strong></h3>

<p>Sears began, fittingly enough, as a mail-order catalog company in 1888. After initially just selling just watches and jewelry, they would expand to become the United States' largest catalog company. Ironically, seeing the times change and staying just ahead of the curve, they went nationwide to open retail locations in 1925. By 1931, the retail stores were outselling their catalog for those pre-dated by Sears; at points in time, you could get anything from the retailer. Their stores and catalog have featured everything from your standards, toys, clothing, and electronics to farm equipment, cars, furniture, and more. </p>

<p>From the mid-1940s through the 1970s, Sears' sales numbers would soar to all-time highs. AS the popularity of shopping malls rose to prominence, Sears was often the "anchor" department store for malls throughout the decade and beyond. They employed nearly a half-million Americans at their peak height. However, remember when Sears saw the writing on the wall and stayed ahead of the curve, moving from the catalog only to opening retail stores across the U.S.? Well, suffice to say, after having monstrous sale numbers throughout the 1980s, they were no longer able to keep ahead of that curve. Things for Sears Roebuck and Company, for nearly 130 years the absolute number one retail store, would never again reach their apex as they moved into the 1990s. By 1993 Sears did what was once unthinkable and discontinued the printing of their annual Christmas catalog. As Bob Dylan might observe, "The times- they-were-a -changing."</p>


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<blockquote class="wp-block-quote is-style-large"><p><strong>"Sometimes life moves pretty fast if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it."</strong></p><cite>— <strong>Ferris Bueller</strong></cite></blockquote>

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<h3><strong>Intro to an Icon</strong></h3>

<p>Around the same time Sears began enjoying its climb to the retail world's top, a completely unknown, young businessman, Sam Walton, would purchase his first-ever department store. Now, it's safe to say that at the time, given the methods available of circulating information, and the size of Walton's store and its relatively unthreatening suburban Arkansas location that the decision-makers for Sears wouldn't have even known he or his store existed. Given the success they were enjoying at the time, it's a safe bet they did not even care. I'm almost sure looking back, they'd have wished they had the ways and means of knowing of Walton's business model, as in the end, between him and others to follow (Target, K-Mart), it would ultimately prove to be their undoing.</p>

<p>Walton was exploring a business model of the higher volume of sales with lower pricing to his products. Though he suffered a few minor setbacks initially, in the Summer of 1962, he opened his first "Walmart Discount City" store in Rogers, Arkansas. Within five years of opening, Walton's stores expanded in numbers to 18 across Arkansas. Three years later, for the first time, Wal Mart opened its doors in a state outside of Arkansas. While Sears continued coasting atop the retail department store world throughout the "excess '80's" Wal-Mart grew to become first a regional powerhouse and through sticking to Walton' "low-price, high-volume" game plan would expand to become the U.S.'s third-largest retailer (Sears and K-Mart) with almost 1,200 stores across the U.S. by 1987. By 1990, they surpassed both Sears and K-Mart and became the top U.S. retailer by revenue. </p>

<h3><strong>The 90's and Beyond: Evolve or Dissolve</strong></h3>

<p>In addition to the more cost-friendly products and model of Wal-Mart, a new and digital age was on the horizon by the mid to late 1990s. As noted above, the once-iconic Sears catalog was discontinued in 1993. Unfortunately, with the success they had in this email-driven type of sales, it would seem if Sears had the right people looking at the future, they could have thrived as the huge boom that would be online shopping began growing, but obviously, those people were not in place. A 2005 merger with K-Mart would prove as nothing more than a band-aid being placed upon an open wound, as after a year of increased sales, this duo's failure to form a strong digital presence would prove to be the eventual undoing of the American icon, Sears Roebuck Company.</p>

<p>Like Wal-Mart had now grown to do, Sears had seen in the 1920's the direction shift and was able to move flawlessly with the times. However, as time progressed, Sears no longer did "stay ahead, which led to their experiencing drop-offs in revenue to the tune of tens of billions of dollars annually by 2015. As other online shopping giants such as Amazon began gaining momentum alongside the new "king" of retail, Walmart, the writing was all but on the wall for Sears. It is estimated that due in major part to their failure to evolve from their antiquated business model and their lack of emphasis on forging a strong online presence, Sears sales numbers dropped nearly by 30 billion dollars from 2010 through 2017. In the late fall of 2018, Sears Roebuck and Company officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As a result of their free fall, which media outlets have dubbed the "retail apocalypse," the once-mighty Sears has just a smattering of operating retail stores left across America. Comparatively, Wal Mart reported that in just the third quarter of 2020, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a 5.32 quarterly revenue increase, earning $134.7 billion worldwide in that three-month period.</p>

<h3><strong>If They Could Only Go Back</strong></h3>

<p>As emphasized in our introductory few paragraphs, the one opponent that can topple the most unbeatable foe is time. Nearly a hundred years ago, Sears was able to see the retail world evolving from the "mail order catalog" era and get the jumpstart on opening retail stores nationwide. They stayed on top of the game for well over six decades, and this is due in part to the fact that the retail game never really changed. However, when it finally did, after what the once "King of Retail" would enjoy as their most lucrative decade the 1980's, Sears was not prepared and evolution in the. form of a new retail business model and eventually online shopping would spell the end of this American icon.</p>

<p><strong>Maybe with the '80s being so successful for Sears Roebuck and Company, they should have listened to a quote from the main character in one of that decade's biggest movie hits, as it could have tipped them off to keep a better look out of their surroundings. The quote comes from the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and from Ferris himself who prophetically remarked, "Sometimes life moves pretty fast if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it."</strong></p>

Out of the Blue and into the Black

An unmistakable look, taste, feel, flavor, or sound. A brand that finds its way above and beyond just gaining respect and becoming successful. An item, a person, place, or something that grows to become woven into the thread of pop culture…
<h2>Fairy Tales</h2>

<h3>"Long ago and Once upon a time" in a faraway land lived a beautiful princess who had been raised as a commoner, kind, humble, and forever committed to the ideals of service. The enchanted forest beckoned the girl into its pulsing heart. The luxury and plushness called out to her like a haunting ballad of an ancient song. Smell and sight vied for attention in this soul-enriching world of dreams. </h3>

<h3>She was idling past and caressing soft suede wildflowers, choosing only the perfect ones for a handmade tiara. The girl overheard the gurgling sound of water and made her way to a pool that looked like a polished mirror of silver. The shiny spillway trickled down to a rougher part of the pond, and moss-covered rocks and boulders surrounded the edges. </h3>

<h3>The princess made her way to the edge so she might gaze at her reflection as the sun and water made the perfect mirror of nature. In the light of the day, the pool's reflective motion was not that of the girls at all. </h3>

<h3>But one of an icy heart and the cold indifference that bleeds no more at the suffering of others. The princess knew that there would be no more dawn after night's fall unless she defeats the evil within.</h3>

<blockquote class="wp-block-quote"><p>"I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach." — Alfred Hitchcock </p></blockquote>

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<p class="has-drop-cap">Alfred Hitchcock, a phenomenal influence and legacy with the silhouette recognized worldwide and best known for his signature style of visionary strategic storytelling and affable filmmaking. "The Master of Suspense." Hitchcock arrived in Hollywood, California, in 1939 and would forever change how movies were being produced and how we would watch them in the theater. By 1939 Hitchcock was a filmmaker of international importance, with the 1935 film 39 Steps and 1938 film The Lady Vanishes, both ranking among greatest British films of the 20<sup>th</sup> century. </p>

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<p>Alfred Hitchcock would make his first American film Rebecca, released April 12, 1940, which would receive 11 nominations and earned him two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Cinematography. </p>

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<p><strong>Creating the brand</strong></p>

<blockquote class="wp-block-quote"><p>"If I won't be myself, who will?" <br>— Alfred Hitchcock</p></blockquote>

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<p>Alfred Hitchcock pioneered the way and was the first director to brand himself and today is the most recognized name in cinematic history. Along with a background in sales and marketing, he realized just because you have a logo, a recognizable name, and a recognizable success doesn't mean you are a brand. Let's talk logo and the infamous silhouette. According to author Robert Kapsis, he details in Hitchcock's Reputation that in 1927 Hitchcock sketched the outline himself and made a wooden jigsaw puzzle for his friends and colleagues as a gift. Today the silhouette is instantly recognizable by millions. Hitchcock always believed it's the quality of work you put out into the public eye and that how important it was for the director to be known in the public eye for excellent quality. He would be known to say actors come and go, but directors stay. He knew how to create an emotional connection between his name, image, and audience's desires for the most memorable and best cinematic experience. However, Hitchcock always made sure he worked with the best talent on and behind the screen. The savvy did not stop there as he built a brand in the children's market and famous Monster Museum, a series of books, and Ghostly Gallery and television series. Establishing a solid brand identity is the key to success, with over 50 featured films in his resume, like the ever-popular apocalyptic story of friendly birds that turn into terrifying assailants. Hitchcock has received numerous awards in film and television, and he has two stars on the Hollywood walk of fame, and 1972 he was awarded the Cecil B. Demille award. Two fun facts in the 1960's Alfred Hitchcock asked Walt Disney if he could film in his newly opened park in Anaheim, California, disgusted by the 1960 movie Psycho Walt Disney refused him. Alfred Hitchcock, the iconic legend, never received an Academy Award for Best Director.  What? Were they living in the Twilight Zone?</p>

<h2>Production of a Classic</h2>

<blockquote class="wp-block-quote"><p>"A boy's best friend is his mother." </p><cite>— Norman Bates</cite></blockquote>

<p>It was a scorching kind of day full of sweat and perspiration, so humid and sticky it's as if people glowed and radiated the sun's happy aura. The sky was a brilliant corn-flower blue with not a cloud in sight, and it officially felt like summer in the "Big Apple."</p>

<p>Madmen of the ad world, riots in Harlem, station wagons for days, and Greenwich village's hip artists welcome to 1960 in New York City.  Dwight D. Eisenhower is president, but it's an election year, and there is a prime democratic hopeful named John F. Kennedy to look on the lookout for. Everyone is signing Cathy's Clown by the Everly Brothers. However, the focus today, June 16, is in Times Square and on the theater and film industry along with director, writer Alfred Hitchcock and his new film about to debut at The DeMille Theater called Psycho.</p>

<p>Psycho, an American classic and a 1960's thriller, showed Hitchcock go into darker and more shocking territory than ever before that also has some of the most famous and iconic sequences in the genre. Hitchcock would battle with the American censorship over censorship for violence regarding the infamous shower scene. A young woman is fleeing from a robbery of her boss in Arizona to California, and she ends up at Bates Motel. She is murdered in the shower by a disturbed young hotel owner who dresses and talks like his deceased mother.</p>

<p>Hitchcock would shoot the scene with an average of 78 camera setups and around 52 edits in the sequence. The character build-ups, the way he shot the scene close-ups, along with a terrific score, made the movie look and feel more gruesome and the visual horror more terrifying than any other film to date. He captivated the audience and sent their minds spiraling down a dark hole of terror. It was like a thrill ride through a haunted house with a mixture of screams, laughter, shrieks, and fainting in your seat or bolting for the nearest exit. </p>

<p>Another fun fact the infamous shower scene would also be the first time an audience saw a toilet in a movie, and the blood in the background was a watered-down Hershey Chocolate Syrup.</p>

<blockquote class="wp-block-quote"><p>"Always make the audience suffer as much as possible." </p><cite>— Alfred Hitchcock </cite></blockquote>

<p><strong>Alfred Hitchcock would receive the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in 1979 and sadly would die of natural causes on April 29, 1980, at the age of 80, as an iconic brand identity. He made a commitment and stayed committed along with all aspects of the journey. Hitchcock's true power was emotion, and his legacy is still influential today.</strong></p>


Fairy Tales “Long ago and Once upon a time” in a faraway land lived a beautiful princess who had been raised as a commoner, kind, humble, and forever committed to the ideals of service. The enchanted forest beckoned the girl into its pu…
<h3>We’ve all heard certain sayings in the world of marketing time and time again. When discussing organic traffic, one of these sayings we hear declares that “Content is king!” However, while it is undeniable that consistent, dynamic content is proven to be an effective tool in attracting a target audience, how does one create content that sets your brand apart from the competition? How does one make sure the killer content that is crafted reaches the desired and targeted audience you seek? On top of these types of questions, what about SEO? You’ve been told how effective a tool that is in driving quality traffic to your website as well. So, where does SEO fit in? Well, simply put, SEO will get you there. No question. However, it’s that consistent, killer content created in three stages that will keep you at the top to stay.</h3>

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<p class="has-drop-cap">Strategy. Another word we always hear when talking about digital marketing and successfully building a brand. This is for a good reason. Any expert in the marketing game will tell you, a great strategy implemented by a hired professional is the ideal place to start in building your brand. But where exactly is one to start with the actual strategy? Well, the obvious first step is to have a vision. You must first identify and develop the niche audience that you are trying to reach. Remember, the end goal is to create a relationship with the audience that sees them eventually as paying clients. Thus, you can’t effectively start writing any content without knowing who you are trying to reach with that writing. As mentioned above, this is what is referred to as your vision.</p>

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<h2><strong>Have a Vision Before Making a Decision</strong></h2>

<p>In creating your vision, you want to develop “personas.” These are identities that summarize your desired audience and their specific interests. What is the age or gender you’re trying to attract? Looking back through your previous campaigns, what posts or content that you wrote was the most successful? Likewise, what among your content did not resonate so well with the audience? Conducting thorough analysis and research to help answer each of these can be done by looking at analytics.</p>

<p>Using easily accessible tools like Google Analytics can be very helpful in creating your vision. In addition to answering the questions above, they are also helpful in seeing which content your audience engages with most. This allows for you to then create more dynamic content centered around those topics most helpful to the potential client. Once your vision has become clear, and you have an audience and subject matter in mind, the second stage in creating killer content is creativity.</p>

<h2><strong>Getting Creative and Getting the Customer</strong></h2>

<p>Killer. Consistent. Relative. Storytelling. These are all words that are used often when the discussion turns to content. How do I write killer, consistent content that “tells a story” relevant to my target audience, though? Well, now that you’ve got a “vision,” it’s time for the next step, and that step is creativity. In drafting your content, creativity is key. You want to begin by utilizing the data gathered informing your vision and start mapping out your strategy as you start creating content.</p>

<p>First, in implying creativity, you need a great headline or title for your content. This needs to grab their attention while letting them know what the content will be covering. Also, when forming the vision, you will have identified some key terms and phrases that you feel the target audience would search for relating to the topic of your content. Also, to help you to reach your maximum creativity, take a look at what some of your competitors have written about. Don’t forget, Google and other search engines want to provide the audience with the most thorough article for whatever subject they are searching for. By analyzing the competition’s work, you can use your own creativity to make sure your content is head and shoulders above the rest.</p>

<p>The competition is not the only place to review and use to maximize your creativity within your content. Take a look back at your own work. Have you written on the subjects you decided as relevant in your vision? Look to build upon and write similar posts, creating content on the same subjects moving forward.</p>

<h2><strong>The Excellence of Execution</strong></h2>

<p>First, you “had a vision.” Next, you turned to your “creativity” to set your brand apart from the competition. The third step in achieving marketing success is executing your strategy. What do we mean by executing it? Plain and simply by execution, we mean, “get the word out.” Your message and content are strong and will lead to organic traffic, but what are some other ways you can promote or execute your written work.</p>

<ul><li><strong>Your website and blog- </strong>drawing potential clients to your website is imperative. Utilizing blog entries to deliver the type of traffic you desire all boils down to a solid vision and creativity in writing.</li></ul>

<ul><li><strong>Social Media profiles- </strong>use places like Facebook or Instagram to post links of your content that can lead the reader directly to your website. Again, the more people who read your content and can be directed to your brand’s “lifeblood” (your website), the more you will see them returning for more.</li></ul>

<p>So, just to be clear. Why is killer content the key? For one, if done correctly, you’re not only putting it in front of their eyeballs, but you’re utilizing the competition to be the “better choice.” Killer content is the key for many reasons, actually. Just remember to follow the steps. Form a vision and make it work. Channel your creativity and use this to build customer and audience trust. Lastly, execute! The one sure-fire way to know that your execution was great is to see what type of engagement there is with the potential customer. The more they come back, the more likely they are to spend, and the more loyal and longstanding the client will become.</p>

<h4>So sure, SEO is great, and it can propel you to the top on google, page one. But when you want in for the “long haul” and want to see consistent results for an extended period, we have to agree with that old saying everyone has heard, “Content is King!”</h4>

I See Dead Presidents

We’ve all heard certain sayings in the world of marketing time and time again. When discussing organic traffic, one of these sayings we hear declares that “Content is king!” However, while it is undeniable that consistent, dynamic content …
<h3><strong>Something unlikely to leave your mind anytime soon:</strong> Hopefully, in 2021 it will not be your business or brand that receives the distinguished title of "Worst Customer Service." With many years under our belts of unpleasant extremes in customer service, these experiences have reared their heads and continue to escalate instead of getting better. </h3>

<h3>Many of these experiences have become violent with both consumers and employees; we hope these instances will not become a trend. However, we are focusing on cases of many kinds of customer service failures that are all too common in today's world and happened daily. We all have had unforgettable moments of lousy customer service. Ensure your business or brand is known for the right kind of service.</h3>

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<p class="has-drop-cap">Impossible to believe, well, maybe not.  I watched as an elderly lady in a motorized shopping cart drove up to the checkout lane in a popular superstore.  She struggled somehow as she unloaded her items onto the checkout counter as the lady working the cash register was laughing and talking to another employee.  After unloading all of her things, she waited for the lady to acknowledge her to check her out, and this went on for a few minutes when the employee turned around to tell the customer, "you are going have to load all this stuff back up in your shopping buggy and go to another checkout, I am closed," and she left.</p>

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<p><strong>A middle-aged gentleman walks into a well-known grocery store, carrying an over half-eaten pie. Really? I thought you took food out of the grocery store, not into it, well little did I know.</strong></p>

<p>Curious, I watched as this gentleman made his way to the closest checkout register and proceeded to tell the cashier this. "I am bringing back this lemon pie because my wife and I just didn't like it very much." What the hell? Is that a real thing? So, I then noticed that more than half of the pie was gone.  Do people do this?  The employee then proceeds to say, "I am so sorry, sir, that you did not have the experience you expected; I will be glad to give you a refund." So you really can have your pie and eat it too!"</p>

<p>These two separate and real scenarios happen daily.  While not all businesses are perfect and companies occasionally make a mistake from time to time when dealing with an unpleasant person, we manage to experience these issues. Americans indeed tell an average of 15 people about a bad service experience vs. 11 people about a good service experience. Can you count on your fingers more positive or bad experiences in an average week?  We have all been eager to call customer service to voice a complaint and get faced with an automated voice menu that, in the end, directs you to visit their website. </p>

<h2>Automobiles, Trains & Planes</h2>

<p>When you have decided to book and purchase an airline ticket, you will place your whole trip and experience into that airline's experienced hands. You rely on many professionals to get the job done and the experience to go off without a hitch. We have determined no one is perfect, and there are rare occasions, mishandled bags, flight delays, seat disrupts, flight cancellations, you know the usual. However, on this particular sunny summer day, a young lady makes her way to the airport for a long-awaited and needed family vacation with her children. This fantastic trip had been planned for over eight months now, with all tickets purchased in advance because she had saved for a first-class experience. Eagerly waiting in line to check-in, the family approached the airline kiosk and realized when they received their tickets, there were no seats assigned; the young lady thought this strange but figured they would assign when we get to the gate, so to the security checkpoint they go. At the gate, the airline representative began to tell the young family that they could not get a seat assignment because the flight had been over-sold and to please take a seat for now. However, after about an hour of back and forth and a few heated discussions, it came down to we are sorry you purchased first-class tickets in advance, we over-sold this flight, and we now require volunteers to give up their seats so you and your family could have seats on the plane, and we apologize. However, we now have a few seats in coach, not first, but here is a $200.00 gift certificate for future travel for your trouble.  Oh, and one last thing, the seats are not together. This was an "Unforgettable" vacation.</p>

<p>Often, poor or bad customer service is caused by a lack of effort from customer service agents or employees. A lack of engagement and motivation and lack of proper training on the employers end, leading to unhappy and unsatisfied employees, unsafe work environments, and reduced productivity. </p>

<h2>Can we Fix It?</h2>

<p>Assessing the situation, asking for the customer's needs and preferences, and offering and delivering a solution whenever possible is a start. Don't just leave customers on hold; treat your consumers with respect. Improve your personalization, listen, reward and offer special incentives. Don't just appreciate your best customer; appreciate them all.</p>

<p><strong>I sat down to order one of my favorite pasta dishes at a popular American chain restaurant.  My waitress was all smiles, enthusiastic and friendly she was genuinely happy that I was there.  I knew then my experience was going to be grand from that point on just by my first impression, and it was Unforgettable</strong>!</p>


Something unlikely to leave your mind anytime soon: Hopefully, in 2021 it will not be your business or brand that receives the distinguished title of “Worst Customer Service.” With many years under our belts of unpleasant extremes in custo…
<h3>They say; eventually, all things change. This has not necessarily been the case for the better part of the past 50 years. At least not when buying and selling a home. For the most part, this process has prominently included a real estate agent or broker. However, in more recent times, "evolution" appears to be "changing the game" in real estate. Why you may ask, would this seemingly constant piece of the home buying and selling process suddenly not needed? Well, to explain why we can point to several factors. For one, there is always room for more convenience and a more customer-friendly experience. Also, there is more information available to the consumer. Plus, accessibility to important facts and figures is more readily at one's fingertips like never before.</h3>

<p class="has-drop-cap">Is there a need for an agent or broker in the technology-rich real estate market currently accessible to the public? What role, if any, does an agent play in this evolution? Can the seemingly transparent and stress-free real estate world of companies such as Open Door, Knock, Orchard continue to assume the "agent" role? We will analyze each of these questions and break down certain "myths" that exist that may or may not be factual. Likewise, we will look at how all of these innovations pertain to the future of the buying and selling process. </p>

<h2><strong>A Digital Presence Beginning to Emerge</strong></h2>

<p>To start with the aforementioned "myths," it is imperative to look at a little bit of history. Contrary to popular belief, the emergence of a digital presence to replace an agent's role did not emerge in this past year. This presence can be traced back about 35 years. The first true step in the innovation of real estate and its gaining more of a digital presence was in 1996. Innocently enough, this grew out of a minor change. The initial goal was for the betterment of the overall buying and selling process, with maximum convenience in mind. This first digital "baby step" saw MLS and newspaper home listings become much more accessible online for the first time.  </p>

<p>It was at this time that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) licensed the website to a company called Homestore. They launched a public website showing property listings on a large, national scale for the first time. would become the exclusive online listing source for several huge, national media outlets at the time. Noticing that this could lessen the role of the realtor, NAR backtracked a bit and put restrictions on Homestore. Seeing the situation could turn into a costly problem; the NAR chose their convenience over that of the buyer and sellers. They began disallowing Homestore from including pertinent information for the consumers. This included recent and past home sales to accurately determine the prices of their inventory.</p>

<p>Even with the NAR putting restrictions on, they began realizing that the writing was on the wall. It would only be a matter of time. The NAR's withholding of information aside, they realized the internet and digital direction the industry was heading was inevitable. The emerging digital platform was expected by most in the industry to help lessen costs and erase excessive fees in the home buying process. However, just the opposite was happening with By 2005, tech experts and real estate professionals would begin to look into other digital possibilities.</p>

<h2><strong>Trying to Fix the Fix</strong></h2>

<p>What had first appeared a breakthrough to add convenience and lessen costs would prove to come back to haunt the NAR and Their initial "haunting" would come in October 2005 with the introduction of the first independent home search engine, Trulia, this was the equivalent of Google for real estate. Trulia went directly to the source for listings to avoid the restrictions NAR had put on before them. Thus, now all pertinent information needed for potential home buyers was easily accessible. </p>

<p>Trulia went further than was ever even expected to. They didn't just show homes for sale or that had sold. Crucial statistics and demographics were now available through Trulia. Stats showing important areas such as crime, schools, and commute times were now at the buyer and seller's behest. Maps and local area amenities and trends for surrounding areas and even exact neighborhoods were at the searchers' fingertips. Early that next year (2006), another website emerged that would eventually prove a powerful independent home search engine. This was Zillow. They would introduce the Zestimate. This gave consumers instant access to home price estimates. For the first time, there was no need to communicate with an agent in any way.</p>

<blockquote class="wp-block-quote is-style-default"><p>Trulia, this was the equivalent of Google for real estate. Trulia went directly to the source for listings to avoid the restrictions NAR had put on before them. Thus, now all pertinent information needed for potential home buyers was easily accessible. </p></blockquote>

<p>Trulia and Zillow's emergence saw both independent home search engines overtake The number of visitors to each website grew by staggering leaps and bounds. Both companies would go public, Zillow first in 2010 and then Trulia the following suit in 2012. The two companies eventually merged in 2014. Consequently, according to 2019 statistics, a combined 216 million potential homebuyers visited the two monthly. This is compared to 76 million visits a month received at </p>

<p>Unfortunately, this promising early rise of the websites did little or nothing to absolve home sellers of any expenses. Case in point, in 2005, the standard six percent commission received by agents totaled $60 billion annually. Scratching their collective heads, many in the real estate field felt maybe some things would never change. This thought is supported as recently as 2018. The same 6 percent commission accounted for over $80 billion in agents' and brokers' pockets in that year.</p>

<p>So, yes, they saw and attracted considerable numbers in the visitor column. But truth be told, home search engines like Trulia and Zillow did little to help buyers or sellers. Other than allowing them to find and utilize listings on the two sites, they did not help at all. As a matter of fact, sellers were now in worse shape than ever. These sites, such as Trulia and Zillow, gave buyers easy access to more information than ever before. In comparison, the sellers gained no advantages whatsoever. </p>

<h2><strong>Overcoming Irony</strong></h2>

<p>Want to talk irony? In a twist entirely adverse for serving the initial purpose they'd hoped, Zillow and Trulia became dependent on the exact demographic they tried helping others become less reliant on. The real estate agents. How could this happen? Well, plain and simple, the websites need money to operate. Thus, smart agents would collectively pay these sites billions every year to advertise near their home listings. So, the initial goal here was to help the buyers and sellers. To knock down at least some costs they endure from agents in this process. Unfortunately, once dependent on income from the agents' ads, Trulia and Zillow would be assisting the realtors and not the consumers as originally planned.</p>

<p>Unlike previous efforts, the innovations in the past decade or less are not just those of tech companies. Many of these independent search engines and sites have "smartened" to the realtor process. Thus, many became licensed brokers. What exactly does that mean? Well, for one, they can perform all or at least most parts of the selling and buying process. This includes the financial end with no agent and no agent commission fee. But wait, wasn't that to be the case back in 2005-06, too? What is different between these new sites and companies and what we saw when Zillow and Trulia first appeared?</p>

<h2><strong>Welcome to the Future </strong></h2>

<p>Remember we said, "eventually, all things change?" Well, moving on to the present and looking ahead to the future, and despite failed initial tries of Trulia and Zillow, there are two factors that no industry is impervious to. Technology and Science. Both of these are always evolving, and many times are a driving force in "re-inventing" the way things are done. While no final verdict is in of yet, this combination has undoubtedly played a large in the past decade's evolution in residential real estate. Consequently, advances in technology and science have allowed companies like Orchard, Open Door, and Knock to "change the game." Oh yeah, and the billions of dollars these companies have at their disposal doesn't hurt their survival chances either.</p>

<p>Technology. Science. Billions of dollars. Have to say, it appears that's a pretty trio to have working in your favor when setting out to "change the game." But how do these new companies work? What is going to make things different this time around? The first and maybe most important difference we mentioned above. These search engines have become "licensed brokers." So, when a buyer or seller approaches Orchard, Open Door, or Knock, they are now experiencing the real estate version of "one-stop shopping." The steps and information that previously could only be accessed through an agent but now is easily retrieved through these companies, is staggering. Given they are now licensed, Orchard, Open Door, and Knock all eliminate the stress and costs of the whole "readying" or "staging" your home for the purchase process. </p>

<p>How are they able to do these things? Well, to start, they are actually inspecting the homes. Thus, they can accurately price each down to the smallest of specifics. Things requiring agent assistance before such as, upgrades, renovations, and premium features and factoring each into a sales price, no longer calls for the realtor assistance. Even more unfathomable years ago, but a very real part of the independent search engine real estate "evolution" is the funds they offer throughout the buying and selling process.</p>

<h2><strong>No More Surprises and No More Stress Could Eventually Equal No More Agents</strong></h2>

<p>These companies are, for the first time allowing the online buyer to make instant, strong offers on a home they like regardless of the status of their old house. Things such as "finding a buyer" or having a contingent sale were once major setbacks in comfortably placing an offer. With Orchard, Open Door, and Knock offering up to $25,000 to get a buyers' old home "fixed up" ready for listing, putting forth your best offer is made a whole lot easier. As if $25K is not enough, these companies also pre-approve those eligible for a new home loan, including the down payment. So there is nothing at all holding these searchers back from sealing the deal once they find the home of their dreams.</p>

<p>The two most important factors to any real estate transaction and building a customer relationship are transparency and trust. These independent websites considered this, as they give a buyer or seller insight into every aspect of their transaction as never before. They help the client to 100 percent access and transparency in every step of the process from contract to closing. They even make you privy to their inspection process and show how they arrive at the value of your old home. Speaking of that "old house," in the case that you have already closed on the new purchase, the worry of double mortgages has also been eliminated. Wondering how? Well, simply put, Orchard, Open Door, or Knock will buy the house from you and list it for sale. They literally have all bases covered and advise and inform you the entire way during the process. </p>

<p>In fairness to the real estate agents and brokers, we don't want to imply that they are not good at their job or not hard-working, honest people. Over the years, we've had the pleasure of working with some wonderful men and women within that field. We wish these folks nothing but the best. But speaking from a financial standpoint and for overall convenience in what can certainly be a stressful process, it is hard to imagine agents miraculously discovering a way to compete against these newer, industry revolutionizing methods that the digital brands can provide. History has certainly shown the agent or broker to be resilient and find ways of surviving with their lofty six percent commission cut intact, time and time again. However, if they can not find some methods to "keep up with the Jetsons" and figure it out soon, regardless of resiliency and survival in the past, our friend the realtor may be forced to go the way of the dinosaurs and become extinct as they watch these online brands "change the game" of residential real estate for good.</p>

Is the competition eating your lunch? Is the realtor becoming obsolete?

They say; eventually, all things change. This has not necessarily been the case for the better part of the past 50 years. At least not when buying and selling a home. For the most part, this process has prominently included a real estate a…


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