Prominent local entrepreneurs Suzi West and Jon Myers have co-founded a company that specializes in strategic business marketing focused on fresh ideas to drive profitability.
The two-person team that is GreenMyers specifically focuses on the combined effectiveness of social media, networking, and personal promotion− and the duo is not above taking their own advice.
In fact, they recently developed a website, www.shortnorthloft.com, to sell their home in Columbus’s historic Yukon Building. The site features captivating photography, easy site navigation, and well-resourced traffic building search terms, according to GreenMyers.
“When I first considered listing my home, my immediate thoughts were to identifying someone that would best fit the lifestyle of my abode,” says West. “I want to find the buyer that will appreciate the space that I created and how I live− walking to favorite restaurants, shopping locally, living in an efficient place, and consuming less.”
To their credit, they have had at least one “bite” on the property since they gave the following He Said/She Said-style interview on Friday. Read on to learn what West and Myers think the other brings to their joint venture, why they are proactively searching for clients, and how they think Facebook and Twitter are changing the way we buy.
Melanie McIntyre: You say real estate market fluctuations are prompting people to utilize atypical home selling methods. But do you think sellers are turning to social media, like Twitter and Facebook, and individual URLs because they are desperate? Or because they feel they can truly broaden their pool of potential buyers? Or both?
JM: Obviously, it depends on the individual, the market conditions where someone’s home is for sale, and the desirability of the property. No, generally I don’t think people are turning to social media and individual URLs out of desperation. I think they’re turning to these tools out of frustration.
I’ve yet to see a real estate agent that gets the internet and contemporary selling. The psychological triggers to selling are the same. However, the tactics that make up contemporary selling are very different, in my opinion. Especially when you factor in the internet and how people are presently looking for information.
Sellers know their own behaviors. They know that as a buyer people turn to the internet, they ask friends via social media, they socialize and research online. The research one does online is an expression of commercial intention, meaning they are looking to buy something.
The right online marketing can put the right information in front of those prospects who are looking to buy something.
When you do a search online and see the results for “short north loft,” for example, and look at the sites Google returns, it’s pretty horrifying. Aside from sites that fail to serve the search query, I wouldn’t want any of those sites representing my property. The term “short north loft” is searched over 2,000 times a month. When someone Googles that term, what do you think they’re looking for?
In terms of broadening the pool of buyers, I see Facebook and Twitter as two different mediums. The biggest difference is that people go to Facebook to socialize; there is little commercial intention baked into the interactions on Facebook. Whereas Twitter is mainly a way to amplify and distribute a message which, in this case, should be helpful information about working and living in the neighborhood you’re trying to sell your home in.
Facebook has over 110 million registered users in the United States, with a median age of 37. Chances are, a potential buyer for your home is on Facebook. That said, many sellers fail to understand the nature of the medium and the nature of interaction on Facebook. The tone of creating a presence on Facebook should be about fun, though it’s an opportunity to create social proof. Social proof means “my friends like this, so it must be good.”
Presently we’ve relied more on Twitter rather than Facebook to get the word out about our property, simply because we have bigger networks and more reach on Twitter.
SW: I would have to admit that I am probably an atypical consumer. I have purchased a foreclosure property, rented my first Columbus apartment by driving around a favorite neighborhood, and attended auctions for furnishings. However, offerings like Craiglist make being a buyer or seller so easy. Sort of like how Facebook and LinkedIn barely require you to write a note or birthday card.
I would never see it as desperate, but rather innovative or, dare one say, “courageous”? I have a Realtor to list the property in the event it does not sell through our personal means. We were fortunate that the property sort of came with its own public relations kit. We just figured we would attempt to lend our expertise and network reach to list it in an independent and inclusive fashion. If that doesn’t work by a certain time, then I am handing it over to a listing agent that comes with his own expertise and impressive rolodex.
MM: What advantages does an individual URL have over, say, a listing on a real estate agent’s website?
He Said: A personalized message about the property you’re trying to sell. Also, the domain for the website is a keyword rich domain, meaning we can rank really easily for the words “short north loft” and “short north condo”.
She Said: What he said. Jon and I have this peculiar sense of interest coupled with humor and innovation. We buy web URLs all the time and then work through the potential business opportunities. We own several domains dedicated to anything from fashion to dating to travel, you name it. We actually own a very good friend’s full name. We intend to barter that in the future in trade for gourmet dinners.
MM: How do you think social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook, are changing the way we buy?
He Said: Twitter is further democratizing the speed of distributing information. Facebook is making the social part of buying more efficient.
She Said: I love this question! For me, this shift in how consumers buy has driven me as a business owner to shift the way I sell. At Collier West, we fire several cannons to communicate because our customers are plugged into so many different technologies. We still honor courtesy calls, Facebook, blog, email, postcards, Twitter. What I like most about Facebook is the use of photography and a voice that is, or should be, genuine in spirit. With Twitter, I think it is about brevity.
MM: Why is your loft for sale?
He Said: Moving to New York, New York.
She Said: Seems that Jon has decided to move to New York. Well, I guess that’s not true. When I bought the Yukon, I called it my practice property for living in New York or Paris, so I guess I had plans to relocate all along. I love the space. I love the neighborhood, but I suppose it’s time for a new chapter. And I am dying to do a new space!
MM: When did you decide to sell?
He Said: Eighteen months ago. Unfortunately, it’s not really mine to sell.
She Said: Six months ago. We also discussed renting it, but I would rather someone have the opportunity to fully enjoy it.
MM: Now some questions about the joint venture. When did GreenMyers launch?
He said: 08.08.08
She Said: According to Jon, that was a lucky date.
MM: Obviously Jon’s career in website design will be helpful in GreenMyers’s future endeavors. What does Suzi bring to the table?
He Said: Marketing, an award winning interior designer, and excellent copywriting.
She Said: I have worked as a creative director for several years now. I took on the title of web designer for Collier West about a year ago. After “sifting” Jon’s teachings for the last three years, I have developed a few pertinent skills. Jon excels in driving web traffic, eye popping design, and strategic business thinking. I sort of do the same, but in 3D.
MM: Will GreenMyers focus only on selling real estate?
He Said: We hadn’t planned on it. We’re just taking our own medicine at this point.
She Said: We do love a challenge. We like the idea of helping entrepreneurs, businesses or individuals sell products that perhaps need a new and fresh approach to the marketing or distribution.
MM: Will you actively seek new business? Or are you waiting for it to come to you?
He Said: Usually the business finds us by us talking about doing what we do. The projects range from branding, retail store design, user interface design, and online strategy.
She Said: I have spent half of a lifetime demonstrating that you should never wait for opportunity to come to you. You have to create it. We will definitely be seeking new opportunities.
MM: Do you think GreenMyers is filling a niche? Or creating a new business model?
He Said: Yes, the psychology of technology, design and results.
She Said: I don’t think we are doing anything that two aligned people couldn’t do with the right amount of drive and passion. I think what Jon and I share is a desire to help others in a way that is productive. I think we both enjoy big idea people, but find ourselves drawn to those who have energy and ambition to see their big ideas come to fruition.
MM: Jon, tell me about your other existing businesses?
He Said: I’m one of the original founders of DOmedia, an online marketplace for the buying and selling of out of home media. I believe that business now employs about 25 people. I’m no longer involved with DOmedia. I’m also one of the founders of JUFTi, a social gaming studio. There are no full-time employees. We contract the game development through a distributed team on a project-by-project basis.
I’m one of the founders of a new startup named Triato. We’ll allow anyone to set up their own membership website in a few minutes. This will allow anyone with expertise to turn it into a digital product, publish those products to our hosted software platform, build a community around them, and charge for access on a recurring basis.
Seven people are presently working on Triato and it will be launching at Blog World in October.
I also do a lot of user interface design and online strategy work. Additionally, I speak to corporate boards on digital strategy. I also am constantly tinkering and building websites, which I design, and then get coded and managed through digital teams throughout the world. Sometimes I build these sites to sell them −like building homes to flip them− and other times I keep them, and monetize them with advertising and digital products.
I’m on Skype a lot.
MM: Suzi, tell me about your other existing businesses?
She Said: I am concentrating on four at the moment.
Collier West is proud to have been a part of the Short North for five years. We continue to provide unique, one of a kind, artisan goods from around the globe to the Columbus consumer.
The second business is Collier West online. We are growing the four wall business by offering a selection of our goods to a national audience via the worldwide web. That’s why the social media is so important.
In November, I launched a jewelry line under the name “Pont Neuf.” I have been really flattered at its acceptance. I am currently placing work in three locations and seeking some additional doors. A website should be done by late fall.
Suzi West LLC is my private consulting business. I do fashion and home styling, retail consultation, business mentoring, window display, and product design.
If I have time to add a fifth, I would like to become a certified yoga instructor next year. I was just profiled on Facebook to take coursework in Costa Rica to learn Spanish and yoga at the same time. I love profiling.
MM: Anything else you think I should know?
He Said: I can’t think of anything. I just love the hustle.
She Said: I am an Aquarius, Jon’s a Virgo.
To learn more about Suzi West’s loft, visit www.shortnorthloft.com.