Blue Gypsy Bluesfest: "Battle of The BBQ" Bring it on!

Blue Gypsy Inc is unconventional (And so is the Lead Gypsy) so why shouldn't Blue Gypsy Bluesfest be unconventional as well!

Most muli-band venues become a battle of the bands! Well how about we enjoy the bands, they get along fine, no need to fight... but instead we have a Battle of the BBQ? That's right "Battle of the BBQ" is on. Now I just need to get the restaurants to comply!

Since we're having the Bluesfest at Hunt Club Farm in Virginia Beach, an open airy atmosphere where we can let our hair down, bring in the beer trucks and enjoy the Blues, I was trying to come up with just the right food for the event. A BBQ just seems appropriate for a party on the farm. But remember, this is for charity folks. Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads and Nachel' Blues Network dedicated to the preservation of the Blues in Hampton Roads will be receiving 50% of the proceeds from the event.

In order to try to get as much money as possible to the charities I'd like to put a challenge out there to local restaurants that feature BBQ on their menus. I'd like to invite you to tantalize us with your tastes, razzle dazzle us with your ribs, roast your pigs, pour on the potato salad - bring it on! The more the merrier! And I know your BBQ expertise will complement the amazing talents of our bands: Bobby "BlackHat" Walters, Jackie Scott & the Housewreckers, and the Michael Clark Band. Three local favorites and help us draw in the crowds on September 25ht at Hunt Club Farm.

We'll feature each restaurant who participates in the event on our website, in our advertising, and anywhere else we can get your name out...we're hoping for some radio and magazine coverage as well. And of course we'll write blogs about you and tweet about you from @bluegypsyinc and @gypsealeah. You just bring the food.

Our judges will be comprised of our top level sponsors, who will also be featured in the "Battle of the BBQ" and any advertising associated with our savory competition.

So bring it on BBQ Masters in Hampton Roads! Contact me at leahATbluegpsyincDOTcom if you want to be involved in this great event for charity and our "Battle of the BBQ!"

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Checking Out The International Building Scene: Costa Rica!

"I'll go with you!"

As soon as my Realtor friend, Dawn Miller, said she was going to Costa Rica to check out some new homes communities for her international real estate business, those were the words that immediately flew out of my mouth. "I'll go with you!"

If you read my travel blog, you'd know I've been going through major travel withdrawal, and so the idea of taking a business trip to Costa Rica sent me packing. But in reality I'd love to find a way to combine my passion for travel with my expertise in lead management.

I was glad Dawn let me invite myself along.

While we investigated property in three different area's along the Pacific cost of Costa Rica ideas began to peculate.

It seems that while real estate in general has taken a hit in the last couple of years there are still people ready willing and able for a variety of reasons to purchase land overseas.

As we spoke with each developer, builder and real estate agent we heard many say that their experience with foreign buyers, and Americans in particular, was that many desire to move their money out of the country at this point in time. They cited reasons which included a perceived insecurity in the financial structures or the government in general.

Costa Rica seems more than happy to accommodate this urge by creating a number of investment opportunities. You can find properties in the hundred thousands to the millions and we saw the entire range during our trip. Anything from a very basic condo investments to homes that are built with multiple sections that can be rented out separately to capture the tourist rental market.

In several of the upscale condo and single family home communities we visited the craftsmanship and quality was incredible. And while there were hundreds of developments to choose from we managed to find some of the best. With the hundreds of developments all over Costa Rica it is impossible to know the reputation of them all.

We were impressed with the developments we viewed.

Many give back to the country by building schools and contributing back to communities. Since Costa Rica is a very Eco tourism minded country, there were also many green practices employed in both building the homes and creating the communities.

After working with builders for the past 4 years I feel I have a good eye for quality and craftsmanship and I was blown away by some of the beautiful details. I saw amazing finishes and features such as bamboo ceilings, hand sculpted metalwork railings, custom closets, private pools and endless outdoor verandas to take advantage of the views.

As we chatted with both the developers representatives as well as locals it became quickly apparent that it is important to go with established developers with a proven track record and one who is well established with in the area.

We heard stories of beautiful entry ways, slick brochures, and "bargain" pricing. Many investors have learned the hard way that if it sounds too good to be true... then it must be too good to be true.

We were impressed with the track record, the building quality and the environmental and philanthropic nature of all of the developments we visited.

If you are planning on investing in foreign countries, it can be a great way to create a vacation spot, retirement location, or simple investment for yourself. Finding someone who knows the right developments, the right real estate agents, and the right builders overseas is key in protecting that intended investment.

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Singing The Facebook Security Blues in Costa Rica

Facebook's silly new security measures at hinder work.

I'm on a business trip in Costa Rica right now and ironically facebook shut me out of my own account....

Let me explain.

As I was passing time in the Charlotte Airport on Saturday before my flight out to Costa Rica I came across a rant by a friend about facebook's security policies and making it difficult for business owners. I really didn't give it much thought as I read about their new policy to help you secure your locations so that others won't be able to sign in on your account and wreak havoc.

The point is to keep people out of your account and allow you to register a computer as one that you use. I didn't think this would be a problem for me since I was traveling with my laptop and hoping to have internet in most places we were visiting. But sure enough day one and the internet in the room was down. Though it wasn't a problem to use the computer in reception for some simple work, and quick email checks. Facebook was an entirely different story.

When I tried to pull up facebook just to do a little catch up, it decided to employ its new security measures and asked me to identify "Friends" in pictures that it randomly chose from the 502 people I network with on facebook.

Hello! I use facebook not only to keep in touch with friends and family and reconnect with old high school friends but I also use it to network with countless real estate professionals. I can't identify them in some picture from a family vacation or bungy jumping off a bridge? And even some of my best friends don't look easily identifiable in a blurry picture with 5 people hanging around them that I'd never know in a million years. Are you kidding me?

So I was denied access to my own account.

Come on facebook! You must know that we use this for business and you must know there are some pretty crappy pictures online.

Good idea in theory, but as it seems with most facebook roll-outs, they aren't very thought out. And most of the time they seem to miss the mark.

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Crazy Facebook Fan Pages: Why Do You "Like" Them?

There are all kinds of crazy fan pages, or "like" pages as they now seem to be, popping up on facebook.

To me a lot of them seem like time wasters and I'm not really understanding the point of them.

I see people liking crazy things like:

  • We Will Be The Old Ladies Causing Trouble At The Nursing Home
  • Don't give up on God because he never gave up on you...:)
  • I Would Love To Repeatedly Smash Your Face With A Brick
  • I Wish Mosquitos Sucked Fat Not Blood
  • 'Let's eat Grandma.' or, 'Lets eat, Grandma!' Punctuation saves lives.
  • Reading Someone's Status and Thinking "Oh Shut The Hell Up!"
  • Can this poodle wearing a tin foil hat get more fans than Glen Beck?
  • Intelligent, classy, well-educated women who say F*ck a lot
  • I love you but I want to smash your head against a wall
  • Dear sleep I know we had problems when I was younger but now I love you
  • If You can't afford 20% tip don't go out to eat, Period
  • OMG I need a glass of wine or I'm gonna sell my kids
  • Yes I'm a badass that's why you love me

My question is what is the draw of these pages? What kind of interaction are you really getting out of all these things? Is it because they are funny and they give you a laugh? Give me some feedback on why you would or would not "like" a page? Does it bother you that it gives these page administrators the access to email you whenever they want through facebook? If they post often it clutters your feed. So what is the draw?

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Realtors: Should You Push Your Listings on Facebook and Twitter?

Are twitter and facebook the best places to push out your listings? If all I ever did was talk about my travels around the world, people would shut their ears, roll their eyes, and walk away.

If people can't identify with what you are doing they tend to filter it out. The same goes for listings on facebook and twitter.

I've noticed one local brokerage puts out listings only on twitter, and they do it in bunches, which makes it easy to skip over everything they write. Nothing catches my eye because they are only posting listings.

I know they sell houses, they are a brokerage. So tell me why I want to buy houses from you. What kinds of services do you offer...other than selling houses? About 50% of the people I follow sell houses so how are you different?

Should you post listings on facebook and twitter? I say no....and yes. But you have to know the right way to do it, the right time to do it and the right quantity. I'm writing this post because I follow a number of builders, brokers, and real estate agents. While yes, I am an affiliated business, I am also a consumer. And certain aspects about pushing listings feel like spam to me.

I don't think the majority of home shoppers go to twitter and facebook to view listings. I think they are there to socialize, especially in the case of facebook. And while there is a social aspect to twitter, it is also a place to go for articles, current events, new ideas and networking. I don't often go there to look for things to buy. And that includes homes.

If you do indeed have buyers following you, they do so because they want to learn more about who you are. They want to know if your company has a philosophy. Does it have a personality? Does it have good information? Is it funny and fun? Is it serious and professional? They want to know why they should buy from you, not what you are selling.

If I want to buy things (other than homes) I go to Craigslist,, ebay, or the website that will most likely carry the item I'm looking to purchase. (This goes for homes)

Facebook and twitter are there to build a rapport with your potential buyer, not push your products down their throats 24-7. As you build relationships people will naturally be curious about what you sell and what you do.

Does this mean you can never post a listing or anything about what you are selling? Of course not! But you need to do it in a way that is appealing.

Here are just a few ideas on how to put your listings out without it feeling like you are pushing your listings at me:
  • Check out this video of our brand new listing 4 blocks from the beach!
  • Isn't this a beautiful view for your next new home?
  • Only 3 homes left in the last phase of (insert community name here) if you know anyone looking for a new home let me know! I'm here to help.
  • I have 3 wonderful families who have just signed me on to list their houses, if you know anyone looking for a new home send them to this link (insert link here)
  • Hey friends, I know you know I'm a real estate agent, but did you know that (x) number of my last listings have sold in (y) number of days or less? If you have friends who are trying to sell there homes I'd be glad to see what I can do!
  • We have the best selection of homes located minutes from (insert point of interest here) the if you, or anyone you know is looking tell them to check out this link.
  • I'm off to show an amazing home today in the $230's. Check out this virtual tour!
  • Know anyone looking for a home in (insert area name here) ? I've got several ready to go between (insert price range)
  • Look at these amazing pictures I just took at my new listing!
  • Wouldn't you like to call this your next home? (insert picture here)

Okay it's obvious I can go on, and on and on. When I see listings like this, even though I'm not even shopping for a new home, I'm more likely to click the link and may even find that I know someone that might be interested.

So can you use twitter and facebook to post your listings....sometimes. As long as it's not the only thing you talk about.

If you only ever talk about the same thing in the same way on twitter or facebook you are so easily tuned out and you won't even know it. Just like the local broker I follow on twitter. If all I ever did was talk about my travels around the world, people would roll their eyes and walk away. But if I save the tidbits for the right moment then it catches people's attention.

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Question: Who Wears The Pants in The Home Shopping Process? Answer: The Buyer!

I've been shopping some builder websites for an international project I'm working on. Perhaps I'll finally be able to combine both my love of travel and my love of selling houses, but more to come on that later.

It amazes me how much money is obviously put into some of these websites, yet they aren't getting their money back out. So far I'm on 72 hours out, and no follow up off of 3 different foreign builder's websites.

The shopping process that I use made me think of a recent blog post on Mike Lyon's site, Do You Convert. I was reading a guest blog post by his wife, the decision maker when it comes to buying a new home.

Mike's family is not unusual. In the home shopping realm women are usually the decision makers in the family even if ultimately the final decision is made together. That means women are the ones on the front line looking at all the information before the family ever leaves the house in order to narrow down the choices. They are shopping by elimination. And there is a huge list of reasons you, as a home builder, or even as a real estate agent, may be eliminated before the in person shopping even starts.

Is ignorance bliss? Not in this case, you should know what you are doing to be eliminated so that you can correct it. Don't you want a better chance at gaining a buyer?

Here is an important quote from Cori Lyon in Mike's latest blog post, "If I’m looking for a new home, I will search online for home builders, check out their website-focusing on floor plans, price ranges and locations. I choose services and products based on the website. I have two kids and not much time. If the site is confusing, I won’t stick with it to figure it out. If the information I need isn’t on the site, the chances of me calling to find out the basics are slim to none."

It's not just busy mom's who won't spend much time unraveling your website, it's also busy executives, and anyone (read everyone) who leads a busy lifestyle.

If you lock all your important information behind a permission based form, people will not take the time to fill that out. They will move on to the next site that has more information and less hoops to jump through in order to find what they are looking for.

Cori also goes on to say, "Most importantly- follow up- it really does work. If I contact you, I want to hear from you. AND I will remember you. I will go about my day- think of a question to ask you, forget that question and then I get an email from you and BAM, I remember."

If there is one important piece of information to take away from this post, it would be follow up. People go about their busy lives looking at a thousand things online ever day. If they actually bother to fill out information on your site that means they are interested to some degree. If you do not have a system in place to handle that inquiry immediately you are losing out to the guy selling the same thing, who does follow up.

If you want to be in the running for people's business the simplest way to do so is to follow up. Such an easy thing in theory, yet in practice it seems to be a major element lacking in even the best of businesses out there.

Key points here:
  • Busy people shop online!
  • Don't have a confusing site
  • Don't make them have to call to get information they need
  • Don't forget the floor plans
  • Don't lock away your important information behind a form
  • Follow up, follow up, follow up
While for the most part it is the woman who wears the pants in the home shopping process, it's important for builders to remember that it is the buyers who ultimately wear the pants and it is their needs you are trying to satisfy with your online presence. If you're not hitting the key points buyers are looking for, you are losing out to someone who is.

This holds true whether you are selling $100,000 town homes for first time buyers, or million plus vacation retreats in tropical locations. People will begin their process online. And if you don't have the information they are looking for you may be eliminated before you even knew you were in the running.

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