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It’s 2012: does anyone want an “e-pro?”

So I have been thinking about designations lately in relation to a couple projects we’re working on.

And one keeps sticking in my craw:

e-PRO.

I get it. Technology and media. Anyone working today needs to grok this stuff. That’s cool.

But as a certification program for which one is awarded a designation – something to display publicly as a mark of special expertise – it’s feeling anachronistic.

There was a time when putting “e-PRO” next to your name signaled something desirable to consumers. “I’m comfortable online” or “I can market your property electronically.”

All good.

But now, in the year 2012, twenty years into this web thing, I fear this signals something quite the opposite:

“I had to take a class to catch up on stuff you probably take for granted.”

Realtors don’t get designations for “electricity” and “telephone.” Why, in an age when we carry computers in our pockets and extend our most personal interactions into the online world, do we need one for digital technology?

You see what I mean? “e-PRO”… it just kind of makes you cringe. The mark gives off a whiff of ignominy, not aptitude.

It’s more Hester Prynne than Superman.

The open kitchen

Before you lash me to the stake for suggesting something that helps people may have unintended and undesirable consequences, let me say this:

I believe technology training is a good idea, I know many fine trainers, and I mostly hear that e-PRO is a worthy program.

One of our missions with this blog, in fact, is to highlight new technologies and applications.

But again, I’m just not sure it should be a designation.

I have always believed that ours is an industry unsuited to an “open kitchen” – meaning that the work happening inside the industry does not play especially well in front of a consumer audience.  Agent-directed recruiting messages on broker sites built primarily for buyers and sellers is a common example.

There’s nothing wrong going on there; it’s just not the best idea.

Same thing here.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. What’s your take?

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77 Responses to “It’s 2012: does anyone want an “e-pro?””

  1. Kevin Tomlinson says:

    Brian,

    Hey! Surprisingly, I’ve hear the opposite about the classes. I heard in AZ they can’t even get enough people to book one class.

    In Miami they’ve only had ONE class here…about 8 months ago…and crickets since then. Keep in mind that Miami Association of Realtors is the LARGEST association in the country. Eeeeek.

  2. Kevin Tomlinson says:

    I did go and get the BPO certification because it taught me something that was directly related to the business of buying and selling real estate.

    A client doesn’t care if an agent knows social media rules or etiquette or best practices or how not to get sued…as determined by the “powers that be.”

    I don’t need someone to teach me how to market myself. I’m a fame ho. And contrary to most of the snake oil people’s sermon’s there ain’t no one that is ever gonna buy or sell a house from advertising it on Twitter or Facebook. There. I said it. It needed to be said.

    • Paul Zubrys, TheDailyListings.com says:

      Kevin,

      I might not have sold a house via Facebook or Twitter. However, I did sell a $3.6M parcel of land, without ever meeting the buyer until after the closing, due to having one of my posts forwarded by a subscriber to a developer who was thinking about making an offer on the very same property I featured in the post; a 167 acre parcel of southwest Michigan waterfront property listed at $4M.

      You might think this is a once in a lifetime occurrence. In reality, I’ve sold several properties by simply posting good information about it. The client is usually a regular reader, and due to all those posts, has reason to trust my judgement. They come out to the location, usually at least a 1 to 2 hour drive into southwest Michigan from Chicago, to visit the property for the first time and write an offer on the spot.

      This type of things occurs at least 3 or 4 times as year. I find that the more often I publish my newsletter, post blogs, and twitter relevant info, the more similar deals I close.

      Paul Zubrys, Principal Broker
      Lake Michigan Lakefront Property since 1987
      http://www.thedailylistings.com
      http://www.lakerealtors.com

  3. Mary Pope-Handy says:

    One small correction: the E-Pro is a certification, not a designation. They are qualitatively different; a designation requires paying annual dues while a certification is a one-time training thing. There is no “E-Pro designation”, only an E-Pro certification.

    One of the problems with the NEW E-Pro is that they didn’t go out of their way to court those who’d already gotten the certification in days gone by. The “returning” discount was so measly as to be almost insulting. You don’t get returning customers that way. I have no intention of re-taking the course, given the low discount for those already holding the certification.

    The E-Pro certification used to be a real mark of distinction, and you’re correct that this isn’t the case today. I loved the old list serve,learned a lot from other E-Pros there, and actually made many friends and business connections through it, but that died when it was reformatted and taken away from the good folks at Internet Crusade.

    Sad to say, I think NAR has ruined this certification. I have spoken with people in my state association about it and it sounds like no one even wants to take the class. Shame. It was good.

    I’ll continue to keep E-Pro as part of my alphabet soup on my signature, not because I value the current content – I don’t – but in gratitude for the program that did teach me a lot a decade ago. I’m hoping it can still be saved.

    • Brian Boero says:

      Mary -

      Thanks. I didn’t get the designation versus certification distinction. In any case, my point was that a lot of agents use “e-pro” in their public marketing materials and I wonder if that’s telegraphing something less than flattering to consumers.

  4. Kevin Tomlinson says:

    OOOOOOOOOOOOhh…and it’s ON! Mary let’s gab about “alphabet soup” Why on the email signature. I’m NOT being snarky or mean…I’m asking. I never got why agents put it THERE. In a bio maybe…

    I don’t think most consumers know or understand or CARE enough to even wonder what those things mean. No?

    • barb freestone says:

      Although the consumers don’t know what the designations actually mean, I do believe when they see letters after someone’s name they make the assumption the person has a higher degree of knowledge. And, the letters become a conversation opener between the consumer and the designee.

  5. Ryan Hukill says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I kind of chuckle inside when I see the e-pro mark on an agents marketing materials today. Is it coincidence that those same agents are the ones who are absolutely non-existent in the SERPs?

  6. Kevin Tomlinson says:

    Ryan,
    I think it “may be” an attempt by them, as Brian says, to show that they are “keeping up” with the times.

    I don’t see dentists with “TWS” on their websites (Tooth Whitening Specialist)

    • Ryan Hukill says:

      Yep, I’d have to agree with you. They seem to be trying to convince people of something that’s of no substance, like the wimpy guy who brags about how tough he is, when the truth is he’s putting on an act to cover up his insecurity in knowing that he’s a wimp.

      I definitely believe there’s value in agents getting educated, but it seems that most agents who go after designations or certifications aren’t doing it for the education, but are instead doing it for the right to brag about something that didn’t actually up their game at all.

  7. Catherine Ulrey says:

    I have been thinking about the CRS Designation lately, so your topic caught my attention. I would assume that technology changes faster than they can update the course. Also, I no longer look for designations when I need to place a referral. I google them and check out how good their website is.

  8. Geordie Romer says:

    I took the e-pro class long ago, perhaps in 2005. At that point it was starting to show its age and really wasn’t worth much. A “tin foil badge” someone called it at the time. I wasn’t ready for CRS or my managing brokers license at the time so e-PRO was something I could pretend gave me some validation.

    Surprisingly, it actually did mean something to consumers. A local insurance agent always makes a big deal out of me being an e-PRO when he refers clients to me. I cringe when he does it, but apparently it struck a chord with a least one person outside of the fold.

    I don’t know if we need the e-PRO designation, but despite all the avenues for tech education – reBARCAMPs, Agent ReBoot, RainCamp, etc most agents and managing brokers don’t know a thing about marketing in an internet world. They may have a FB account but that doesn’t mean they know anything about SEO or email marketing or social media.

    In the end, it’s fine with me. I’m in no rush to give them the secret sauce if they’re not interested in it. e-PRO or not, the average consumer is likely to get stuck with an agent who is surprisingly behind the times.

  9. Bruce Lemieux says:

    Sadly – I haven’t been to a single association-sponsored training class over the last several years that has helped my business.

    From a client/propect’s perspective, I don’t believe any of these designations have any importance to them. Consumers do not even understand or value (IMO) the Realtor designation, much less e-Pro, CRS, etc.

  10. Victor Lund says:

    Real Estate technology is a mystery to so many agents in America today (most of which do not read this blog because they may not be able to follow the conversation).

    The training is needed, and albeit seemingly simplistic stuff – it is useful. I agree that it is not “something to display publicly as a mark of special expertise”

    Saul Kline and team did a great job with ePro. Bill Lublin is adding his inspired spice to the program today. I would hate to see it go away.

  11. Francces Flynn Thorsen says:

    I think Brian is right from a branding perspective. e-PRO no longer adds value as a certification. It used to be a differentiator. I don’t think it adds value any longer.

    I agree with Mary that NAR’s choices relative to e-PRO redesign hurt more than helped with that product.

    NAR dissolved a highly engaged e-PRO community without offering even a close substitute to the agents in the trenches. My sense is e-PRO is dead. I disagree with Victor. I don’t see evidence of “inspired spice” anywhere in the new mix.

    Tech savvy consumers won’t care if an agent is an e-PRO and they will not be impressed by a clever combination of four letters and a hyphen.

    It boils down to perception.

    NAR made a fatal blunder when they dissed and angered so many Realtors who gave enormous value to their e-PRO soup. NAR dissolved a highly engaged community where the real value of e-PRO resided.

    Buyers and sellers hiring a Mary Pope-Handy or a Kevin Tomlinson
    are going to walk away from the table with a healthy respect for WHATEVER alphabet soup they are wearing because they are SUPERB Realtors. They add value to the alphabet soup.

    RIP e-PRO. It was a great program in its day.

    • Chris C says:

      Well played Jim.

      Signed Chris C., LMNOPa (a=also)

      p.s. so many agents with so many letters after their name has devalued the entire concept. If everyone had an MBA, they become worthless. No difference between a multi year credential and a a hour online course. Same soup at the end. no value to consumers.

  12. Jim Zirbes says:

    To Kevin; we have had multiple e-Pro classes held in Arizona every year since it’s inception, including 2011.

    To Mary; While you started out well with “One small correction: the E-Pro is a certification, not a designation” your explanation from there is not fully correct although it does tend to be true of NAR designations. I know that at least the GRI (which is a designation)comes without any additional ongoing fees, save for continuing to be a NAR member in good standing.

    I can assure you that there are ample real estate designations not affiliated with the NAR that do not require any annual dues. The most comprehensive list I know of these can be found at: http://coursedates.com/designations.asp

    I have reviewed the e-Pro coursework over the years (and the e-certified one that existed before e-Pro)on multiple occasions as it’s been updated and I think it’s still very relevant in today’s market.

    I also believe that the e-Pro name to the public is an indicator that this agent has taken steps to get and stay up-to-date on technology as it may impact the service level they can expect from that realty licensee.

    • Francces Flynn Thorsen says:

      Jim,

      Amy Chorew came to PHX at the beginning of the year and co-taught a class with Joeann Fossland. Joeann had about 7 or 8 classes SCHEDULED in 2011, and one in 2012 and every one of them was cancelled due to low enrollment, I am told.

      There were classes cancelled in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tucson, Sierra Vista ..

      Were there additional classes that actually took place?

  13. Mike Bowler Sr. says:

    Hate to disappoint you guys, but yesterday I had an “ePRO Day One” class of 22 in Farminton Hills, MI and 21 rated the class and instructor “Excellent” It’s no different than any designation or certification, it’s what those 22 agents do with it, that counts.

    As for the content of what we had and what NAR is providing, it’s day and night. The I.C. ePRO was outdated. The NAR content is also, becoming outdated, which means it will be important to have instructors who know what’s going on.

    Let’s give credit where credit is due. It’s a great course to get agents on the bandwagon. Maybe more agents would show up if more so called “Early Adopters” “Famous Blog Posters” and “Social Media Guru’s” promoted it versus attacking it. After all, won’t it make our industry more professional if agents that take this course go out and put the principle into practice.

    I’m excited about this conversation and believe we are just scratching the surface for educating our “NAR” members. We have a long way to go. Maybe some of you can help get us there. :-)
    “Expect the Best” Mike

    • Brian Boero says:

      Mike –

      The point of my post was not to deride technology training or, for that matter, the content of the e-pro course itself.

      I am suggesting that displaying evidence of such training to consumers is no longer a good idea.

      Do you agree or disagree with that premise?

    • Mike Bowler Sr. says:

      I no longer display my ePRO, CRB, GRI, SRES, and CREA. However, if I was in a listing presentation or anything else competing against the competition, I would highlight my differentiation with the knowledge obtained through these courses. The public does not know what the initial’s even mean, until they are explained.

      Damn it, Brian, you’re right. Nobody can really be a “Real ePRO” if they expect to sell real estate. :-) I’m somewhat hardcore though, and believe every REALTOR should get the ePRO certification just to keep their license. (How’s that for raising the bar?;-)

  14. Marlow says:

    I laughed out loud. No, we don’t brag about how proficient we are with “phone”. That’s funny. But you’re right, ePro is not particularly impressive, and I think it’s best to leave that certification off ones signature.

    While I believe every broker should have expertise with technology, it’s amazing to me how many do not.

    I’m in Seattle, a tech hub, yet many of the most successful agents in our market do not blog, are not on FB, Twitter or Linkedin, and may not even have a personal webpage. I’ve checked and this is true for most of the luxury agents and for many of the other “top performers” at all the major brokerage houses.

    I think that technology can help the average agent stand out and get more business, but it doesn’t seem to have any impact on the luxury agent and many of the other high-volume agents and some who specialize in certain market segments (REO’s, bankruptcy sales, that sort of thing.)

  15. E. Lockett says:

    This is so true. Great insight.
    I’m sure the classes are great and very helpful but to have it in your material, you might as well wear a badge that says “trying to catch up on technology”

  16. Bill Lublin says:

    Brian;

    I’m a little surprised that you choose to speak negatively about a course you haven’t read or taken – notwithstanding your statement “I mostly hear that e-PRO is a worthy program.” (which is possibly a text book example of damning with faint praise).

    The comparison with Hester Pryne sort of made me chuckle though. It may have been a while since you read the Scarlet Letter. Hester Pryne is an enduring heroine of American literature – a strong woman, condemned by her neighbors, who bears the penance imposed upon her by a prejudiced, short sighted community with a great deal of dignity.

    As I read your post, it seems that your position is that everyone is, or should be, so facile with technology that recognizing someone for completing a technology course is an unnecessary and negative thing. I disagree with you. However, my disagreement aside, the current e-Pro is not just a course on technology, it is a course on the application of technology to the real estate business – a far different matter, and one which has received great reviews from the people who have taken it.

    Our course covers a wide range of material beyond digital technology, including Intellectual Property Rights, Copyright, Plagiarism, Ethical Considerations under the COE, and regulatory issues that need consideration by the practitioner. The e-Pro course is for people that recognize that there is a huge difference between owning technology and knowing how to apply it in the most effective manner to grow your business. Oh, and just for the record, we are constantly updating the e-Pro course, because the technology is rapidly changing.

    Though our online conversations often focus on the tech savvy consumer, as a man that runs a real estate firm doing business with lots of people with diverse backgrounds,dealing with consumers every day, I can tell you from experience that consumers appreciate certifications and designations, because it is an indication that the real estate professional has gone a little bit beyond the average practitioner.

    Consumers do not take for granted the technological expertise of their agent. We live in a world where agents need to understand, and be able to explain how their electronic marketing strategy, SEM, SEO, syndication, and their social media strategy will impact the sale or purchase of real property. They also need to know what things they might be doing that could get them in trouble, and how to avoid the legal, regulatory and practical issues that can arise. In that world, having an e-PRO certification is not a bad thing.

    • Brian Boero says:

      Bill -

      I can’t blame you for not liking this post, as I know you’re involved with e-pro. But I am not speaking negatively about the course.

      I am expressing the opinion that sporting the “e-pro” mark in a consumer-facing way is probably a bad idea at this point.

      I guess you disagree with that. And that’s cool. Mine is but one opinion.

    • Bill Lublin says:

      Brian, I don’t disagree with you because I am involved with e-PRO, I disagree with you because my experience , working with agents and directly with consumers everyday tells me that there is value to certifications and designations. If you had decided to make the point that some other designation course was irrelevant, I still would disagree with you.
      Consumers view our industry as monolithic. Agents and companies compete with each other, constantly attempting to establish points of differentiation. Certifications and designations help accomplish that. In most cases, the consumer needs to be educated as to the meaning of the designation and what it indicates about the agent they are interviewing. This becomes one more piece of information for the consumer to use. I have found, as have others, that consumers are interested in how technologically proficient their agent is, and I do not believe that they think we are all tech wizards or discount the effort the agent made to obtain the certification. If two agents are competing for a piece of business, and they are equal in most respects, it is entirely possible that the consumer will rely upon their certification or their designation to ascertain their education and expertise when making a decision. As a result I don’t believe that using the e-PRO or CRS, CRB, or GRI in a consumer facing manner is a bad thing at all. And that’s because I have used them as points of differentiation to obtain business from consumers , and have discussed the matter with consumers in the field. It’s not just an opinion, it’s observation of their practical use.
      But of course it’s cool for you to disagree. And I would still buy you the adult beverage of your choice the next time we’re somewhere together :)

    • Brian Boero says:

      If I were going to tout my certifications publicly, I’d limit it to those things that a.) communicate a clear client benefit, and b.) Possess, in perception or substance, specialized real estate knowledge.

      The SFR (Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource) certification is an example.

      I know real estate-specific technology applications are covered in e-pro. But out there in the wild, I think the optics are bad.

    • Bill Lublin says:

      Brian:
      Designations that indicate training in a specific subset may assist a consumer with a specific need, but they are, in all but the most missal aced of markets the minority. And though We might agree that designations without explanation have limited play with the public, using your designation or certification as a point of differentiation is a very powerful technique in which the designation or certification is a substantial benefit.
      In the real estate business we are frequently meeting with strangers who need to understand why they should do business with us rather than the man or woman down the street. Designations and Certifications are third party validation of our training. E-PRO as well as the others :)

    • Bob Watson says:

      Brian, your kidding, right? SFR to a consumer could mean Single Family Residence. (hmmm, that could work…but not for those whose niche market is condos.) One I really cringe over is when I see MBA on a card.

  17. brian Bord says:

    So funny looking at the various comments. I came into the USA via being an Estate Agent from London many years ago, in Europe the Estate Agent was viewed upon as a profession, such as a Teacher etc. Over here too many times we are viewed upon as slightly higher than a second hand car dealer.
    I went through the E-pro course and also the GRI exams. So many new agents don’t bother at all.
    My question to you is this, is the Public further enlightened by an agent with a E-pro Certification and other Designations, or do they really care?
    Do you pick your Doctors by chance or do you see what they have achieved and other professions too.
    I think personally that the clients will always choose an agent over another agent that has show the gumption to take these courses in their own time. But hey what do I know!!

  18. Paul M says:

    I agree not to but designation or certificates after your name. Maybe PhD or ESQ. Something that took years to earn is a true symbol of worthiness. if you have put it your signature are you insecure. Did you take a test? did you spend days, weeks or just fork out some money?

    I don’t put my Bachelor’s degree after my name. I think it’s cheesy. The consumer in most cases don’t care, where is the property? How can I get in? Can I make an offer? What do you know about the property?

    If you look any other profession, we don’t see Engineer of Fubber or e-nurse, I’ll diagnois you via email? My 2 cents

  19. Don Phelan says:

    I earned my ePRO certification in 2002, and I feel it was very worthwhile. I believe I learned as much in that course as I did in getting my CRS or my ABR (designations courses which, while educational, do not translate well to the public, in my opinion). I have always felt being well-informed is essential to providing a professional service. I have earned my GRI and a broker’s license as well (1991). Based on my experience with the ePRO course, I highly recommend it. Today, I have an electronic database of more than 8,000 e-mail addresses, get referrals from my 1,300 connections in LinkedIn and my 350 Twitter followers who read my twice-daily RSS-fed electronic newspaper and stay in daily contact with nearly 1,000 friends, family and clients on Facebook. Just the other day, I posted a message and Facebook and within an hour, one of my daughters’ band friends from high school 5 years ago called me and asked if I could help her find her first home. For a grey-haired, 60-year-old guy, I have found a whole new generation of clients. It is your choice but, for me, I think there will be much more to learn about electronic marketing in the future … and I plan to keep abreast of it.

    Don Phelan, Member, RE/MAX international Hall of Fame.

  20. Jim Bilbao says:

    Adding an “e” designation to a real estate title for the benefit of consumers is anachronistic. I agree with Brian, not to disrespect the e-Pro program all that agents learned in it. Apart from e-mail, and e-commerce which were very 90′s technologies, consumer society has moved on. The consumer market is not doing “e” things now; it’s doing “i” things. So, agents should certify with programs like IMSD. But “i” things were really from the 2000-2010 period which was all about “i”. In 2012 with Apple announcing that the age of the PC is over, “i” things will be getting upstaged by “a” things. There are all kinds of apps and app stores tied not to PCs but to mobile devices. I think the industry sorely needs some “a” certifications already, maybe an “a” designation. Maybe as an industry we should skip be moving past “e”, over “i” and going direct to “a”, get ahead of the curve. Brian Bord is right though, consumers still won’t know what it means or why they should care.

  21. Kevin Tomlinson says:

    I’ve been in the biz 18 years NO ONE has ever asked me about my qualifications or education…NO ONE. Further the closest they have ever come to asking anything besides real estate value/marketing questions is an agency question once every two years. Other than that. Nada.

    @Don

    Though your example is great–it doesn’t highlight how your knowledge benefits the consumer; it highlights that you marketed yourself to find another client, but that’s all it says.

    There is a difference between marketing yourself and working with clients buying and selling real estate.

  22. Ryan Hukill says:

    @jim brings up a good point. The “e” does have a certain retro, 90′s feel. It paints a picture of the days when email was the “next big thing.” Subconsciously, that’s one of the factors that’s always given the e-pro term a negative tag in my mind.

  23. Kevin Tomlinson - e-troll (r) says:

    I do adore Amy Chorew, though. She is an awesome educator and I believe she has a genuine desire to help people learn as opposed to giving a sermon to the masses a la Jim Jones.

    She is genuinely excited and passionate about what she does and I would attend a lockbox opening, if she were there.

    • Francces Flynn Thorsen, e-BABCI (tm) says:

      I agree Amy is an outstanding educator. Curriculum aside and certification value notwithstanding, any agent who attends one of Amy’s classes will learn something useful.

      I’m sure she could add an exciting new dimension to the subject of lockboxes.

      In fact, I know some brokers and agents who could use a good class on lockbox management! See that … we just discovered an untapped educational market.

    • Kevin Tomlinson - e-troll (r) says:

      I can’t be more effusive with my praise for AMY. I think I have a crush on her. I LOVE her way. Whenever I’m sitting in front of her I don’t feel like I’m being asked to drink kool aid. #justsayin #weloveamy

  24. Kevin Tomlinson - e-troll (r) says:

    Ask most agents if they know how to work the “new” lock boxes in Miami….90% will tell you NO!.. That’s a class and designation that benefits the consumer. Here, in Miami, old, cheesy lock boxes are a HUGE crime problem for sellers. We, of course, don’t use them on high end properties…but I can read….and those agents need an “e-lockbox” designation. Bill?

  25. Bob Watson says:

    “There’s still meat on the bones” in the ePro course on how to conduct yourself online as a real estate agent. If they learned one thing about creative commons and copyright infringement by taking the course, they would save themselves the cost of the course+ in copyright fines and/or lawsuit expense. Every response here is from someone who probably does not need the course; there is certainly a percentage of the other 1,199,982 REALTORS out there who don’t have an Internet marketing-savvy manager to train them who would benefit from what they would learn from ePro. I’m still scratching my head as to why an active agent who sells property would use any designation, including ePro or even a title such as president or vice-president on their card or in their marketing.

  26. Kevin Tomlinson - e-troll (r) says:

    @ Bob really?

    vice president is a title. A position-holder. Clearly, you jest.

    All of my skills and education and achievements do not go on my card. My position in the company business card is not only appropriate but is REQUIRED by Florida real estate law. Thanks very much.

    • Kevin Tomlinson - e-troll (r) says:

      Bob,
      Yes it is on my card. I don’t know what a call center is.

      But that’s my position in the company—and find it perfectly appropriate and standard practice to have it on the COMPANY business card.

      There is a difference between holding a position in a company and saying “CEO of the Kevin Tomlinson Group at ONE Sotheby’s International Realty”<<<Now that is cheesy and so tragic. We can thank Donald Trump for all the bastardization of CEO title.

      So many agents do it here it is laughable.

  27. Los Angeles Real Estate - Ben Nicolas says:

    Residential Real Estate designations/certifications are such a joke. I found this post HIGH-larious, with one line in particular that made me audibly erupt in laughter:

    “I had to take a class to catch up on stuff you probably take for granted.”

    so true exactly what I think.

    After processing my first 15 short sales back in 2009 I heard that certain banks were starting programs where they would give people that they recommended for short sales to agents that were Equator certified short sale experts. I paid $5-600 but because I’m busy actually working on transaction I didn’t have time to pass the test for 6-7 months after I paid. about 4-5 months after I passed the class they asked me for another $600 they said my time period started when I paid not when I passed the test. I’m only “qualified” if I pay again, not that they ever sent me any biz in the 4-5 mos I was certified…

    I wanna get an e-fax-machine pro certification

  28. Joe Spake says:

    Brian, sorry I am a little late getting to this post and thread. The key phrase in your post is “20 years later”. Technology is so ingrained in everyone’s life, IMO, there is really no excuse not to at least keep up with it minimally. I am an old guy (>60), and I have been fascinated with technology and integrated all I could into my life for over 20 years. I have stayed on top internet marketing, and social media, ever since I discovered the concepts. To believe that someone can achieve competence in all things internet in 2 days is silly, and so is putting a bunch of letters after your name in your marketing materials.

  29. Norm Fisher says:

    I couldn’t resist grabbing this screen capture as I rushed through day 2 of the e-pro course just last Thursday.

    http://teamfisher.com/images/teamblog/epro.png

    Clearly, some of it can use a bit of freshening, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the content of the program. It’s 101, for sure, but it provides a great foundation for those at the start of their journey towards greater proficiency with our technology tools. Like most designations or certifications available to agents, it doesn’t serve as much of a brag piece. Nobody ever became an expert at anything at a two day training program.

    • Mike Bowler Sr. says:

      Norm, good feedback, basically it’s something every REALTOR should be taking not for the con ed or the certification, but to understand our business in today’s world.

  30. Rob says:

    Brian

    The course is good for most practitioners, but yes the E-Pro title sucks, and has for quite some time. I cringed many years ago when I first heard of it. Point well taken.

  31. eric robbins says:

    Without a designation of some kind, how does today’s buyers and sellers tell the difference between real tech marketing skillz and lip service?

    This is not a rhetorical question…I really want to know. Testimonials? Analytics? Referrals? A backlink from a well-known industry blog?;)

    P.S. When I click the box to “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail”, does that refer to all comments for your post or just replies to my comment? I would prefer the latter to be true.

    • Ryan Hukill says:

      I prefer to demonstrate my tech & online marketing knowledge to my prospective clients, rather than asking them to rely on a nebulous set of letters behind my name. I show them (live) the exposure that my current listings have online, proof of my sales record and results directly from the MLS, and the fact that I haven’t had a single listing expire in almost 5 years. IMO, any agent who can’t or won’t show a true, proven track record of success and how they get it done, is hiding something and shouldn’t be trusted. There’s FAR more to an agent’s reputation than simple designation.

      Too many agents lay claim to “top agent” titles and designations as if they’re some measuring stick, when, in reality, the only thing that really matters is results.

      I’m not saying that no agent ever learns anything valuable in these courses, but it’s all about application and effectiveness. I know far more agents without designations who are extremely proficient in online marketing than I know e-pros who have a clue how to apply what they’ve learned.

    • eric robbins says:

      I like this approach since it will inevitably return a page full of results for landing pages you created and make you look great.

      However, it is a little misleading. It doesn’t illustrate the effectiveness of your marketing program – anyone can keyword lots of landing pages to their name. And of course, buyers who don’t know you obviously don’t use your name in keyword searches. They use keyword terms like “Memphis real estate” (22,000/month on Google) or “Germantown real estate (2,900/month).

      Anybody got a better way to execute this approach?

      I, for one, have been encouraging my clients to publish their marketing program in video form like this:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ygwOo6TS90

      Anyone think of slides I could add to make this a more effective presentation?

    • Joe Spake says:

      Eric, my “Google me” response was more about online credibility than about any marketing or SEO plan. I don’t encourage people to google me to find houses in Memphis. I wouldn’t consider key wording my name for real estate search. My name is my brand, and real estate searchers aren’t looking for that. However, the brand is the anchor for everything we do, marketing and advertising.

      Putting the ePro designation after your name does not prove any credibility online and does not stand up to a solid social graph, which should come out in a Google search. And if one has a more common name, they might consider an online business card link, offering their social graph to encourage engagement, i.e.: http://follr.me/joespake

    • eric robbins says:

      Joe, I meant no disrespect. This is a subject near and dear to my heart and pocketbook and debate is an important learning tool for me. I am open to changing my views if there is a stronger argument to do so.

      Isn’t the term “online credibility” all about the marketing or SEO plan you execute? I mean, sellers certainly want to know where you are going to market their property and how many potential buyers you will have the opportunity to reach. Buyers’ interest in your “social graph” seems less clear. The ability to reach buyers online seems like the only benefit to me. Any other benefits a strong social graph might provide buyers/sellers?

      Lastly, I think your business would be better served if you keyworded your name to every piece of content you publish on the web. Buyers and sellers seem to do ‘reputation’ searches even without the prompting. Plus, repetitive exposure to your brand and content increases the likelihood you will get the interview when the time comes. “It’s time to sell my house…who do I KNOW that is a real estate agent?”, says the seller.

    • Joe Spake says:

      Eric, no offense taken. I think we are on the same page, but I probably put more weight on the social side of search. Say a professional moving to town, checks out local realtors on LinkedIn, or a young family checks out local realtors on Yelp, of Facebook, or a geek looks for a local realtor on G+; that is my emphasis, in addition to relatively decent SEO for the sites and blogs. I have gotten business from most of the social platforms through affinity and engagement,as well as from the sites and blogs.

    • eric robbins says:

      affinity and engagement…okay Joe, now I think I see your point. Your social graph (http://follr.me/joespake) could be seen by sellers as your ability to convert online conversations and relationships into buyer interest in their properties. And the actual work you do or content you publish on those social forums allows both buyers and sellers the opportunity to engage your talents. And now “just Google me” starts to make more sense – the prospective client gets an idea of how pervasive are your online marketing efforts and can engage you on a website of his/her own choosing.

      It seems to me that the term “referral marketing” – the #2 greatest source of real estate business after repeat business (according to past CAR surveys I have seen) – needs a makeover. “Referral Marketing” now encompasses a diverse set of online social networking tools which serve to energize your offline referral sources, speed up the rate of referrals you receive by keeping you in front of your referral sources more often and provide a greater range of content for referrers to share with referees. Does this sound accurate? What would you call it?

    • Joe Spake says:

      Eric, I think you eloquently nailed it. That’s what most people don’t “get” about social media, and probably not something that one can learn in a 2 day e-pro course.

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