Free: Not Always Worth What You Pay

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I recently attended the Keller Williams Family Reunion in Atlanta, GA. The featured speaker was author Seth Godin who spoke about his book, The Dip. He made some great points about the current market and I would recommend it as a good read. Seth recently posted a blog of his own where he spoke about a new service from Squidoo called "Mayor of Your Zip Code".

The idea behind "Mayor of Your Zip Code" is that agents can create a small site using Squidoo's servers with lots of links to information about the towns they work in. You can post links about the town's history, the local government and schools, etc. Basically, it's a free and instant branding opportunity for agents. What could possibly be bad about that?

Well, apparently a lot of things...

It has been reported by many e-PRO certified agents through the e-PRO forums that people have seen a "significant" spike in their spam mail to the address used to register for this service. I know that I get enough junk email already that I do not want to have to deal with more.

Also, the mini-branding websites generated have advertising for competing companies all over them. Squidoo uses Google AdSense advertising to help defray the cost of offering the "Mayor of Your Zip Code" service to agents in general. The problem is that they allow any real estate related ads to appear on your site. Many people have complained that they have links to their direct competitors or limited service companies at the top of their page.

It seems that in this situation, the benefit of a free branding site is outweighed by the appearance of heavy, competitive advertising. Sometimes it's better to limit your branding opportunities to the ones that you can directly control. I know that I wouldn't want my clients to get a mixed message of who I am and what I stand for based on third-party advertising that I have no control over.

Free? Sometimes it just isn't worth it...

Comments (6)

Bill French
MyST Technology Partners - Dillon, CO


Good observation - everything has a cost, even FREE stuff.

It reminds of a recent story on the Today Show comparing the true cost of cars to the actual sticker price - a real eye-opener. This post covers many things including the iPhone (I own one - grimmace). Another place to pay attention to this idea is your overall web and online marketing strategy - a subject where I am greatly biased. While most blogging platforms are free, they come with a cost - less visibility than alternatives.

What's the true cost of a marketing campaign if you're whispering compared to your competitors? Or worse - you're shouting but your competitors are getting the benefit.

Mar 01, 2008 04:37 AM
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F
I never try to make my email address public on forums.  I am glad Active Rain doesn't require it to be up on the website but instead using the contact feature.  On my own website, the email address is there.  However, I have put it there in a way that the spiders cannot easily find it.  Don't you just love the spam.
Mar 01, 2008 04:44 AM
Dick Betts
REALTORĀ® The Villages, Florida
Thanks for sharing!  Another red flag has been raisied in the "Free World"
Mar 01, 2008 04:46 AM
Ronald Gillis
Southwest Florida Notaries (Mortgage Notary Signing Agent) - Port Charlotte, FL
CNSA Southwest Florida. Notaries, Port Charlotte, 941-7-NOTARY

Eventually, just maybe, there will be a "No Spam Email" list so that unwanted emails will be a thing of the past like unwanted solicitation calls!  One can hope anyway!!!


Mar 01, 2008 04:50 AM
Ryan Martin
Pacific Continental Realty, LLC - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker
Steven - There is still some serious value to Squidoo despite the downfalls that you mentioned. I realize that Seth makes a living from selling his marketing books, but there are still some hidden gems in Squidoo.
Mar 13, 2008 01:46 PM
Ronald Gillis
Southwest Florida Notaries (Mortgage Notary Signing Agent) - Port Charlotte, FL
CNSA Southwest Florida. Notaries, Port Charlotte, 941-7-NOTARY

I am still waiting for that 'no spam list'  Guess I will have to keep waiting!!!   :-)


Jul 05, 2008 03:52 AM