Tag Archives: innovation

Realtors, Nextdoor is a great source for seller leads

Last week I was woken up at 2am by a volley of popping firecrackers followed by a 2:15am encore performance of several bottle rockets.  The pyrotechnic hooligans did not have the courtesy to hang around for a round of applause from the neighborhood they just startled.

Later that morning I logged on to our neighborhood group on Nextdoor, that neighborhood social network, to see what the chatter was on the late night festivities.  Wow…the chatter was popping.  I learned that my street was center stage for the performance (or ground zero) and police were called.  Several neighbors reported seeing kids racing through the streets and someone got a pic of a license plate.  Cool.

Wow, isn’t Nextdoor a cool site for neighborhood watchdogs to keep our community safe? I have to admit I only go to Nextdoor when something happens and I need some scoop.  I also used Nextdoor to sell a bike and to get rid of some furniture to someone a few blocks over. I prefer selling to neighbors instead of to people I do not know on Craigslist…or as my mother calls it, “Gregslist.”


The biggest value of Nextdoor, however, didn’t hit me until recently. Someone posted “I’m looking for recommendations for a realtor to sell my house.” As a realtor, I was so excited that I froze.  My jaw dropped.  Asking that question is like throwing red meat to a bunch of dogs.

I quickly responded and recommended ME  as I live literally a block away from the neighbor who made the post.  Of course, I was not the only realtor to be recommended or to recommend him/herself!!!  Realtors dream of hearing someone ask that question and spend big money to ensure they are the person neighbors recommend.  Remember all those “Just Listed!” or “your neighbor just sold his house for $200k over asking!” cards you get in the mail? That’s NOT done because realtors like you…it’s done so you REMEMBER them when it comes time to sell your home.

What’s most interesting about posting a “who do you recommend” question is who is doing the posting.  The person posting lives in the neighborhood and is asking for a realtor because he/she is most likely looking to SELL. That lead doesn’t get more “lower funnel” than that!  In this tight real estate market, realtors fight hard to sell someone’s home. The implications of an agent receiving seller leads on Nextdoor are HUGE. Realtors pay BIG money to purchase leads for clients looking to buy…and  most of those leads don’t end up buying a house.

The key for finding these seller leads is in HOW realtors use Nextdoor to build relationships so they can be the realtor neighbors recommend.  More to come once I’ve tinkered with the platform a bit.


Uncle Fester says, “Focus on the customer!” Snap snap.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 8.28.39 PMLast week I had lunch with a member of the leadership team of an e-commerce company I am advising. I love these lunches for I get to hear about the challenges, provide a point of view, suggest an action plan, but I’m not responsible to drive the implementation. Sigh, it’s a nice change for I’ve spent many years driving and it’s nice not to have to provide a well thought out plan and sell it to all the stakeholders.

The company is struggling with many of the problems common to an early stage start up. Nothing really all that unique. One challenge, however, points to how important it is to address early or it festers like Uncle Fester and can pave the way to a visit with Morticia Addams. The challenge focuses on building a product that customers want.

Back in the mid to late 1990s the concept of “build it and they will come” spread across product innovation. Speaking from the days of the early Internet, I remember talking with companies who received funding based on an online product with the PROMISE that millions of consumers were on their way within a few quarters. WRONG. During my time at eBay, the product team had to take a very pragmatic test and learn approach to innovation for fear of disrupting how consumers buy and sell on the e-commerce platform. New product features would be built and rolled out to a limited amount of select eBay buyers or sellers. The effect of the product rollout on category revenue, GMV, completed listings, etc. was closely measured. Only after the product innovation had proven to achieve a targeted measured increase would the feature be rolled out to the greater eBay community. This test first concept is almost “well, duh” to most of us veterans. However, not every product road map takes this test-and-learn approach.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 8.25.06 PMApparently the founder of the company I’m advising was insistent that scarce product development resources focus on building a specific feature that would be the key product differentiator. The founder was certain that this feature would meet the needs of the perceived target customer and steal customers from the industry leader. Customers were certain to come and revenue would spike after this feature was implemented. No discussion or testing plan was discussed to determine if the feature really met the needs of the customer, if the needs of the RIGHT customer were being met, or if the feature provided enough lift in revenue to warrant significant finite resources.

My contact shared that the feature was rolled out and had consistently abysmal (sub 1%) adoption from the target customer. The target customer did not find value in the feature and significant product adoption did not happen. There was no spike in revenue. Sigh. It became clear that the innovation efforts were focused on the wrong customer and needs. Opportunity was lost.

Meanwhile, the competitor focused on launching new features to help the RIGHT customers, small businesses, who brought supply to the e-commerce platform. These innovations brought more small businesses to the platform, which attracted more consumers, generating more revenue for the competitor. These innovations resulted in a significant A round of investment.

“Yikes, I feel like we missed the boat here,” my contact shared. Hopefully the team is able to quickly pivot and re-align resources before the competitor gets too far ahead. The lesson is very clear, however. Before young companies launch their product, it is important to identify the customer who has the potential to generate the most revenue. Focus on meeting the needs of this customer first through product innovation. As we all know, it’s sometimes not obvious who this customer is and what needs are to be met. However, that’s where product leadership is needed to hold back the “build it and they will come approach” and fan the flames of the “test and learn” approach. The life of the company is dependent on it. The floor of the Silicon Valley is littered with the bones of companies that did not get this right.

The Addams Family. Snap snap.

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