This happens every January: Fired up with the energy of having played with the geeks at the Connect conference, I decide that I’m going to embrace technology again. It’s good for me, this yearly attempt. I’m like a Polar Bear Club swimmer, jumping in and freaking out, but readying myself for a more lasting and satisfying attempt later in the year.
And today I jumped in and had two very distinctly opposite experiences.
The first: I decided to run my first Internet keywords advertising campaign. I am impressed just seeing the words, as though I had written "associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court" or "new proof: Fibonacci numbers." The point is, for me this is hard stuff, but I am building my business to the point where I should have multiple listings (yay!) and so I’m going to want to try different things in individual ad campaigns.
So I went with Google because they’re the 8,000-pound gorilla, and of course they make things easy for you: Here’s a demo of the process, here are little sidebars that explain the process, here are little takeout boxes that address any concerns you may have here. I would imitate their process to produce a script about buying a house if I didn’t realize that it cost millions of dollars, plus all the sushi Stanford grads can eat, to produce the demo I saw.
But the point is: It was easy. For years my friends and I have done a Web site about the Oscar race, so this year we decided to make that a Twitter feed, and the ads just point to the Twitter feed (which won’t try to sell you anything, so feel free to follow us here: http://twitter.com/thefelixes). I don’t feel like Google ran off with my credit-card info; it will take a couple of days before we can see the ads themselves, but I feel fairly confident that they’re going to look like what I think they’re going to look like.
This was a HUGE contrast from the multiday business of paying my Realtor dues, a process that I initiated last week and that I’m not sure is complete as I write this. A lot of the problem is that I’m very old-fashioned, and I expect that if I have to give someone some of my hard-earned money that I’ll get a bill in the mail for it. Not so, says my local board, which sent me an e-mail asking me to go onto Realtor.org to pay my dues. It turns out that I actually have two National Association of Realtors IDs — one for New Jersey and one for New York — and despite the fact that with 1.2 million members someone must have done this before — NAR is not happy with me. So then I do a loop of local board-to-NAR-to-local board-to-NAR (to be fair, everybody’s very nice) before I can even find my bill online.
Then I do try to pay the bill online, something that I am not experienced at — because I feel if God wanted us to pay our bills online she would not have created pretty checks with sunsets and bunnies on them — but I try. There is some sort of electronic-check pay system on the site, and at the last minute I decide not to use it and go with my credit card instead. So I hit the "back" button.
And then I pay with a credit card, and then I get a confirmation … from the check people. I hit "back" again, confirm; "back," confirm; now I really can’t get out of the system and I am wondering if I have paid my dues through 2011. So I try to call the electronic-check people, and get stuck in their voicemail maze.
On the edge of tears, I call my husband — who tersely informs me that he is suffering through the sandwich-generation effect of having already walked his dad through a computer meltdown earlier in the day.
He steers me through the voicemail maze of the check people, who helpfully check the routing numbers and account numbers of three different checking accounts (the customer-service lady sounded trustworthy; she’d better not be running off on a vacation with the Google people) only to tell me that no transaction had happened and she didn’t know why I’d gotten a confirm with her firm’s name on it.
So I left a message for my local board helper again, who is thinking by now it would be much more fun to shoot me than to do anything else, and I will spend the next week eying all three of my checking accounts to make sure their balances don’t change. But at least I’ll have credentials in order when my Internet advertising kicks in.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."
What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.